WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior guard Bobby Harris (Berlin, N.J.) broke a 75-all tie with his fifth triple of the game and finished with 31 points as American International College held off Bentley University, 84-77, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
AIC, with its eighth win in its last nine games and its first over the Falcons since January 2000, improved to 12-3 overall, including 7-2 in the conference. Bentley, which had won seven of its last eight coming in, dropped to 10-7 overall and slipped under .500 in the NE-10 at 5-6.
Spoiled with the loss was a strong showing by Bentley junior Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS). The six-foot-five forward finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and moved into the top 30 on the Falcons' all-time scoring list with 1,260 points.
Bentley, which trailed by as many as 16 during the first half, battled back to tie the game five times in the second half, the last at 75-all with 1:54 to play when junior forward Shaq Phelps (Linden, N.J./Linden HS) made the second of two free throws.
Following a McFarland rejection at the other end, Bentley had a chance to go ahead but senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) was whistled for a travel. On the ensuing possession, Harris connected from the left wing, putting the Yellow Jackets in front to stay.
Bentley's next possession saw Hyland misfire while attempting a potential-tying three. The rebound was controlled by AIC junior Trahmier Burrell (Albany, N.Y.) and he made it a two-possession game by making both ends of a one-and-one with 22.8 seconds remaining.
AIC locked up the win by hitting four free throws in the final ten seconds, two by junior guard Cameron Dobbs (Albany, N.Y.) and the final two by Harris.
The first tie of the second half came at 63-63 with 9:09 left after a Hyland drive capped an 8-2 Falcon spurt. AIC regained the lead on a Burrell lay-up but Bentley answered with a drive from senior guard JP Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) with 8:29 making it 65-65.
McFarland was the next Falcon to tie the game, doing so with 6:12 to play with his fourth three-pointer of the game. AIC reclaimed the lead on a tip-in by senior Al-Shabazz Jabateh (East Orange, N.J.) but two Phelps free throws made it 70 apiece with 4:30 remaining.
AIC scored the next five, the first three on a triple by Dobbs, before five Falcon free throws and a three-minute scoreless drought by the Yellow Jackets left it even at 75 with under a minute to play.
First-half runs of 9-0 and 7-0 helped AIC build a 29-15 lead a little more than ten minutes into the game, and the spread hit 16, 40-24, when Harris drained two from the line with 5:07 left.
Bentley finished the first half strong, using 10 McFarland points during a 14-6 run to draw within eight at the break, 46-38.
McFarland, who set a school record for field goal accuracy (12-12) last year against AIC, also shot well in this one. He was 9 of 14 overall, 4 of 8 from downtown and 6 of 7 at the line. Koury also shot well for Bentley (4-7 overall, 2-3 3's) during a 12-point, five-rebound performance, and Hyland finished with 15 points in 28 foul-plagued minutes.
Harris (11-21 overall, 5-10 3's) also had four steals, six rebounds and three assists. Dobbs followed with 19 points and Burrell provided 16 points and seven rebounds.
Both teams shot 48 percent but AIC was more effective from three-point land, hitting 8 of 22 as compared to the Falcons' 9 of 26. AIC committed only six turns, half of Bentley's total, and had an 18-6 advantage in points off.
Bentley will be back in action on Wednesday with a 7:30 home game against New Haven.