NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With four players scoring at least 18 points, Southern Connecticut pulled away late for an 89-77 win over Bentley University, snapping the Falcons' win streak at six, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Moore Field House.
Senior guard Luke Houston (Pearl River, N.Y.) led Southern with 21 points and three steals while junior forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) and senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) each scored 19 points for Bentley.
Southern, ranked as high as number two in Division II preseason and the reigning East Region champions, improved to 12-3 overall and 7-1 NE-10. Bentley, which had won eight of its previous nine, dropped to 9-6 overall and 4-5 in the conference.
Bentley entered the game number one in the NE-10 in fewest turnovers but gave up the ball 18 times to the Owls, who came up with 10 steals (to the Falcons' one) and finished with a 20-2 advantage in points off. Southern also blocked eight shots, half of those made by sophomore guard Michael Mallory (Waterbury, Conn.), who also helped with 18 points and two steals.
The game was close into the final minute when Southern locked up the victory by making eight straight free throws when Bentley was forced to foul. The Owls finished 20 of 21 at the line while the Falcons attempted only eight, making six.
A six-minute span in which the Falcons managed only one basket, a Hyland triple, and were outscored 10-3 put Southern in control. That turned a one-point Bentley lead, 70-69, into a 79-73 deficit. Mallory and junior guard Desmond Williams (Torrington, Conn.) each had five points during that stretch. At the same time, the Falcons misfired on five of six shots and turned it over three times.
Bentley started fast with an early 8-0 burst putting the visitors up 12-6 less than four minutes into the game. McFarland made a lefty lay-up and both Hyland and senior forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) connected from three.
After Southern briefly look a lead, 38-37 with 2:36 left until intermission, McFarland put his team back in front with a three. That began a 9-5 burst and sent Bentley into the break up by three, 46-43. Hyland and McFarland each scored 12 in the first half to lead the Falcons.
The start of the second saw Southern go up six, using a 10-1 spurt, including a pair of second-chance baskets and five points off turns. A three by Shaw with 13:50 left put Bentley back in front, 60-59, and there would be four more lead changes before a Mallory lay-up with 7:37 left put SCSU on top for good, 71-70.
Bentley got within four twice in the final two minutes, both on lay-ups by junior guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS), the last making it 81-77 with 1:29 to play. Two Williams free throws with 1:17 left extended the Owl lead to six and Bentley was unable to score again.
McFarland earned his 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 6 from outside the arc, and also blocked five shots. Hyland had success from three (4 of 7) but struggled inside the arc (2 for 11, 6 turnovers).
Five other Falcons scored between six and nine points, a group that included senior guard JP Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) with nine points, three assists and a team-best eight rebounds.
Houston had six rebounds, in addition to his 21 points and three steals, and made a couple three-pointers. Senior point guard Tylon Smith (Manchester, Conn.) followed with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Williams matched Mallory's 18 points.
Bentley had a slight shooting advantage, 46-45 percent overall and 11-9 in threes, and was plus-ten on the boards, 42-32. However, that wasn't enough to offset the 18-point deficit in points off turnovers.
Bentley will also be on the road Wednesday with a 7:30 pm game at Adelphi University.