NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Junior guard Troy Hammel (Valencia, Calif.) connected five times from beyond the arc and led five double-figure scorers with 22 points as Merrimack College upended Bentley University, 78-61, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Tuesday night at Hammel Court.
Bentley, 14-9 after its second road loss in four days, dropped to 9-8 in the NE-10's Northeast Division but maintained a half-game lead over Franklin Pierce, a 75-68 loser to Southern New Hampshire, in the battle for fifth place. Merrimack's second consecutive W lifted the Warriors to 12-9 overall and 7-9 conference.
After an 11-2 run in the waning moments of the opening half reduced a 12-point deficit to three, Bentley went into the break down a half-dozen following a buzzer-beating three by Warrior freshman guard Kyle Howes (Maynard) that made it 44-38.
With 15:37 left in the second, Bentley senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) buried a three-ball from the left corner cut the Merrimack lead to five at 49-44. Exactly six minutes later, from about the same spot on the floor, Hyland again drained a triple. That one came with the Warrior lead standing at 17, 61-44.
In between Hyland threes, the Falcons were outscored 12-0, a run that included a Hammel three and two dunks by junior guard Gelvis Solano (New York, N.Y.). During that six minute span, Bentley came up empty on ten straight possessions with four missed shots and six turnovers.
After the differential hit 20, Bentley ran off seven straight, the last three scored by Hyland from deep, to make it a 13-point game with 4:30 to play, 71-58. That would be as close as the Falcons would come.
Bentley led 13-10 five minutes into the game, but the next six minutes belonged to Merrimack. A 21-7 blast that included four three-pointers (two by Hammel) made it 31-20 with 9:09 still to play before intermission. At that juncture, the Warriors were shooting 62 percent with no turnovers.
Junior forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS), who led all scorers with 26 points, keyed the Bentley run late in the first half, netting the first seven.
McFarland and Hyland combined for 42 of Bentley's points with the rest of the Falcons a combined 7 of 29 shooting. McFarland hit 9 of 13 overall, half of his four three-pointers and all six of his free throws to exceed 25 points for the fourth time in the last seven games. Hyland followed with 16 points and eight rebounds but was charged with seven of the Falcons' 19 turns. Those mistakes, many coming in live-ball situations, produced a 20-8 Warrior advantage in points off.
Hammel, who accounted for nearly half of his team's 11 three-pointers, was followed on the scoring list by junior guard JT Strickland (Laurel, Md.), Howes and Solano. Strickland finshed with 16 points, eight assists and two steals, Howes drained three triples en route to 14 points and Solano's night included 13 points and three steals.
Bentley shot only 29 percent in the second half and finished at .386 overall, including 6 of 26 from outside the arc. The Falcons had a nine-rebound advantage (41-32) but that wasn't enough to counteract Merimack's 48 percent shooting and seven fewer turnovers.
Bentley will look to bounce back Saturday when it hosts St. Michael's at the Dana Center, with the tip scheduled for 2:30 pm.