WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore guard Troy McLaughlin (Old Tappan, N.J.) came off the bench to drill all five of his three-pointers and score 25 points, including 17 in the second half, as Merrimack College denied Bentley University a 3-0 start, prevailing 68-61 in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
In a game that featured seven ties and the same number of lead changes, Merrimack took the lead for good with a 12-3 run that made it 49-39 six minutes into the second half. Nine of the 12 came from deep on threes launched by McLaughlin.
After trailing by as many as 12, Bentley closed to within four twice late in the second half, at 60-56 with 5:45 left on a lay-up from freshman guard Seth Stankiewicz (Reading, Pa./Hill School) and again at 62-58 with 2:55 remaining on a lay-up from senior guard Ferguson Duke (Dartmouth, N.S./Hun School (N.J.)).
The Falcons had a chance to draw even closer after Duke's basket but a three-pointer taken by sophomore Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate HS) was off the mark. McLaughlin followed with two free throws and senior forward Riley Calzonetti (Neptune, N.J.) added a basket, making it an eight-point game with 1:34 left. It stayed that way for over a minute, ending the Falcons' hopes of a comeback.
Six of the seven ties and all of the lead changes came in a first half that ended with the score knotted at 30. Freshman guard Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.) led Merrimack with ten points in the half while the Falcons' 30 were distributed among nine different players.
Three Bentley players scored in doubles with Richmond at the top of the page with 12 points, along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS) and sophomore wing Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) followed with 11 apiece with Wheeler five-of-six from the field.
McLaughlin finished eight of nine overall and actually missed more shots from the foul stripe where he was only four of seven. Graduate forward Anthony Barry (Uxbridge) added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Hayes filled the stat sheet with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists, eight turns and four steals.
Merrimack (2-1, 1-0 NE-10) outshot the Falcons 48-45 percent overall and 49-28 percent from three, with both teams knocking down seven triples. Turnovers were a key with Bentley losing the ball 22 times for 34 points. In sharp contrast, the Falcons managed only ten points off 17 Warrior turns.
Bentley (2-1, 0-1 NE-10) will look to bounce back Saturday evening at Franklin Pierce University.