SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Bentley University senior guard Matt Barr (Stratham, N.H./Cushing Academy) knocked down six three-pointer and junior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./ Trinity Catholic HS) put up a 14-point, 17-rebound double-double, but it wasn't enough as the Falcons dropped an 88-82 non-conference decision to American International College in men's college basketball action Monday night at the Butova Gym.
AIC, which used a 17-1 blast to stretch a two-point lead to 18 midway through the second half, was powered by senior guard Juwan Moody (Pontiac, Mich.) and sophomore guard Jayvon Pitts-Young (Portland, Maine) with the duo combining for 54 points.
Moody matched Barr's six trifectas during his 28-point night and Pitts-Young followed with 26, all but four coming in the second half.
Bentley, which fell behind 8-0 and trailed by as many as nine in the opening half, took its first lead of the contest when sophomore forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) buried a three from the left wing seconds before the halftime buzzer. That sent the Falcons into the break up two, 37-35,
It remained a one-possession game for the first 7:45 of the second half, a stretch that saw Bentley tie the game four times and take a brief one-point lead after AIC opened the scoring with a three-ball.
The Falcons were down two, 55-53, with 11 minutes left when AIC embarked on its 17-1 run that made it 72-54 with 7:12 left. Moody scored 10 of the 17, including a rare four-point play after being fouled while making a triple.
Bentley gradually cut into the lead with the comeback powered by Barr, Wheeler and freshman forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston-Northampton School). Their efforts got the difference down to eight with just under two minutes to play and a three from the right side by senior guard Chris Murray (Littleton/Littleton HS) made it a two-possession game, 80-74 with 1:24 remaining.
With AIC's difficulties at the line (11 misses in the final 4:05) helping to keep the Falcons within reach, Bentley sophomore guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) hit two from the stripe with 23.1 seconds left, making it a four-point game, 82-78. However, the Yellow Jackets secured the outcome by hitting six straight free throws in the final 23 seconds, including four by Pitts-Young.
Bentley placed five players in double digits in the scoring column with Richmond leading the way with 19. Barr's six threes in only eight attempts resulted in an 18-point, six-assist night, and Wheeler filled the stat sheet with four steals and three assists, in addition to the career-high 17 rebounds (the most by a Falcon since Brian Tracey in 2009).
Gilpin and Hudson each scored ten off the bench with Hudson's total a career-best.
While both teams buried a dozen threes, AIC (6-7) was much more efficient, taking only 22 from deep as compared to the Falcons' 32. The Jackets shot very well from three to start both halves, making four of four to start the game and seven of nine during the first 12-plus minutes of the second.
AIC shot better overall, 50-45 percent, and had a big advantage in free throw attempts. They were 24 of 37 at the line while Bentley finished 12 of 20. Rebounds favored the Falcons, 38-34, including 26-16 in the second half.
Bentley, 4-7, will return to action Dec. 30 with a 3 pm home game against the University of Bridgeport.