RINDGE, N.H. – Bentley University's 2014-15 season came to a stunning halt Tuesday evening when junior guard Tyler Iacuone (Mahopac, N.Y.) drained a three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left to cap a turnover-fueled game-ending 9-0 run and give Franklin Pierce University an 85-84 victory in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball at the FPU Fieldhouse.
The loss ended the Falcons' chances of qualifying for the conference championship tournament and Franklin Pierce also missed out on gaining a berth due to Merrimack's 84-78 victory over St. Michael's. The three teams all finished 10-11 in conference play but the tiebreaker went in Merrimack's favor by virtue of two wins over division champion Southern New Hampshire.
After sophomore guard Donte Gittens (Hartford, Conn.) rebounded a miss on a drive by Bentley junior forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS), Franklin Pierce took a timeout with 7.1 seconds left. Gittens found Iacuone on the right wing and he let it fly for his third and most important triple of the night.
Six-tenths of a second was put back on the clock and Bentley took its final timeout. A long inbound pass got the ball to the frontcourt but the Falcons were unable to get a shot off.
Bentley seemed to be in good shape most of the night and had its biggest lead of the game, 82-72, when senior guard J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) hit a pair of free throws with 6:59 to play. From that point on, turnovers haunted the Falcons with the team's final 12 possessions including just one basket, by McFarland with 4:38 to play, and seven turnovers.
McFarland's basket restored the lead to eight, 84-76, but the Ravens gradually cut into it with Gittens instrumental in the comeback. He drove baseline to make it a five-point game with 3:21 and came up with a back court steal and a lay-up with 1:14 on the clock to pull his team within two,
After that basket, Bentley ran nearly a minute off the clock, a possession extended by an offensive rebound by senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS), his career-high 14th board of the game.
While the Pierce pressure led to seven Falcon turns in the final seven minutes, the Ravens lost the ball only three times all night. Bentley had a total of 14, and s a result, Franklin Pierce finished with a 16-2 advantage in points off, including 8-0 during the closing run.
Earlier in the second half, after a 6-0 Raven spurt tied the game at 59, Bentley put together an 11-4 run to go up 70-63 with 9:41 to play. Sophomore guard Matt Barr (Stratham, N.H./Cushing Academy) broke the tie with a corner three and the spurt also included a three-point play by Koury, who closed out his career with his highest scoring game of the season.
The Falcon advantage eventually grew to ten on a Koury three-ball and a pair of Hyland free throws.
Both teams placed four in doubles with Koury pacing the Falcons with 20, on 9-of-14 shooting, and Hyland completing his double-double with 19 points (7-11 overall, 3-5 3's). McFarland, who said out much of the first half due to foul trouble, and junior forward Shaq Phelps (Linden, N.J./Linden HS) each followed with a dozen.
Senior forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.) led Franklin Pierce with 25 points as he made 9 of 14 overall with four triples. Gittens followed with 20, along with six rebounds, five assists and four blocks, and Iocuone's game-winner gave him 17.
Both teams shot over 50 percent (.517 for the Falcons, .532 for the Ravens) and Bentley had a significant edge in free throws made (17-19 to 10-17) and rebounds (39-22).
Bentley finished the season at 15-12 overall after dropping its third straight. It was the Falcons' second straight one-point loss, as well as its second in four days.