BURLINGTON, Vt. – After trailing by as many as 15 in the first half and 11 at the break, the Bentley University Falcons shot a sizzling 70 percent over the final 20 minutes to register a 93-75 win over St. Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Ross Sports Center.
Bentley, which improved its chances of qualifying for the conference championships with the come-from-behind victory, placed four in double figures. Included were senior guard Matt Barr (Stratham, N.H./Cushing Academy) and freshman forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/ Hodgdon HS), both of whom set new career highs. Barr finished with 20 and Hudson came off the bench for 15.
Coupled with a one-point Saint Anselm win over Stonehill and a two-point Southern New Hampshire win over Franklin Pierce, Bentley (12-12, 9-10 NE10) moved into a tie for fifth with Stonehill, although the Skyhawks own the tie-breaker) and to within one of fourth-place Franklin Pierce. All the teams have two regular season contests remaining.
Bentley's comeback actually began late in the opening half even though the Purple Knights (5-19, 4-15 NE10) scored the final three points to take a 46-35 lead into intermission. Before that happened, the Falcons had knocked down three triples in 70 seconds to reduce the PK's lead from 15 to nine. Sophomore guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) had the first and third with classmate Kyle Bouchard (Houlton, Maine/Houlton HS) connecting in between those two.
The Falcons opened the second half with seven unanswered, including another Richmond trifecta, and eventually took the lead when senior guard Chris Murray (Littleton/Littleton HS) sank a three-ball from the right wing with 14:22 left.
With the game even at 57, Bentley received scoring from five different players during a 12-3 surge that produced a 69-60 advantage. Later in the half, a Barr-fueled 9-3 spurt made it an 81-68 game with 4:17 remaining, During that time, Barr made a lay-up, took a charge that fouled out St. Michael's standout Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md.), hit a three and made another basket.
During that dominating second half, eight different Falcons scored with Barr leading the way with 12 along with six assists. Richmond, Wheeler and Hudson all followed with nine apiece as Bentley made 21 of 30 overall, including six of nine from downtown.
St. Michael's played the bulk of the second half without Bonds, who had his 18th double-double of the season by halftime. He sat down with his fourth foul with 16:49 left and fouled out with 6:10 remaining.
In the first half, Bentley had no answer for Bonds as he had a dozen points, 13 rebounds and three dimes.
The Purple Knights opened an early 21-14 lead on an 11-4 run and later ran off ten straight to go up 41-26. The home team shot 49 percent during the opening 20 minutes, including 5-of-9 from three, and were a plus-eight on the boards, 26-18. Meanwhile, Bentley was hampered by cold shooting (missing first eight threes) and an uncharacteristic turnovers (five in first 8:21).
Barr finished with 20 points and nine assists, also a career-best. He made nine of 14 shots overall with two treys, and also claimed three rebounds.
Richmond followed with 19 points and five helpers, and Hudson achieved his career-best by making seven of nine shots. Junior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS) made it four straight double-doubles, and ten for the year, with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Bonds finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Purple Knights, whose top scorer was sophomore guard Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J.) with 17.
For the game, Bentley outscored the Knights 52-38 percent with SMC held to .278 in the second half. The Falcons had ten three-pointers, three more than St. Michael's, and a 14-5 advantage in points off turns.
Bentley's final home game, and Senior Day, will be Saturday afternoon against Saint Anselm College (3:30 pm).