WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior forward Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md.) powered his way to 27 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:12 left, and 16 rebounds as St. Michael's College pulled out a 77-76 win over Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, which had trailed by as many as 11 in the second half, battled back to twice take a one-point lead in the final 3:02. A lay-up from junior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS) put the Falcons in front at 69-68. After a Bonds basket turned the one-point lead into a one-point deficit, senior forward Tyler Gibson (Rockland/Rockland HS) returned the advantage to the home team with his lay-up making it 71-70 with 2:22 remaining.
Bonds, 12 of 16 from the floor, countered with a driving lay-up and this time, the Falcons didn't have the answer. Two missed Falcon threes led to three Purple Knight free throws – two by senior guard David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) and one by freshman wing Stan Foster (Rochester, N.Y.) – that made it a two-possession game with 11 seconds left.
Bentley sophomore guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) scored five points in the final 3.6 seconds but two free throws by St. Michael's sophomore Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J.) in between Richmond's driving lay-up and buzzer-beating three prevented the Falcons from having a chance to tie.
Down two at the half following an opening 20 minutes that saw the Falcons shoot only 39 percent while turning it over nine times, Bentley took a one-point lead in the opening minute of the second. Senior guard Matt Barr (Stratham, N.H./Cushing Academy) drained a straightaway three for the 37-36 lead.
The Falcons (4-5, 2-4 NE-10) misfired on ten of their next 11 shots, enabling St. Michael's to put together a 13-3 run for a 49-40 lead. The differential eventually hit 11, 60-49 with 9:13 to play, before nine unanswered by Bentley made it a two-point game, 60-58, with 7:31 left. Gibson was instrumental in that surge with a pair of second-chance baskets.
After an 8-2 St. Michael's spurt returned the lead to seven, Bentley staged another flurry. This time it was eight straight, the final two by Wheeler putting the Falcons in front briefly.
Richmond, who was just 6-of-16 from the field, topped the scoring list for the Falcons with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Wheeler followed with 16 points, six rebounds and three helpers, and Gibson had a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
Bonds' big night was complemented by Holmes III, who finished with 19 on 7-of-11 shooting.
St. Michael's (1-7, 1-5 NE-10) outshot the Falcons 53-43 percent and had a 19-13 advantage in free throws made. The Purple Knights committed two more turns, 17-15, but did a better job of capitalizing with points off favoring the visitors, 18-13.
Bentley will look to get back on the winning track Saturday with a 3:30 pm game at Stonehill.