WALTHAM, Mass. – Northeast-10 crossover play for the Bentley University men's basketball team hasn't gone well with the Falcons dropping consecutive games and three of their last four, all to Southwest Division opponents.
The Falcons, already assured of a 23rd winning record in the last 24 seasons, will look to get back on track Saturday when they travel to New Haven, Conn. to take on Southern Connecticut State.
Bentley, ranked 24th in Division II before a 92-82 blemish at Adelphi University Wednesday, is 15-4 overall and 8-4 in the Northeast-10. That has coach Jay Lawson's team in second place in the NE10's Northeast Division, three games back of Saint Anselm.
Southern Connecticut will bring records of 11-8 overall and 6-5 Northeast-10 into Saturday's game. The Owls, who are in a three-way tie for second in the conference's Southwest Division, ended a three-game slide with a 100-89 win over Franklin Pierce on Wednesday.
The encounter between the Falcons and Owls will feature the leading scorer in both divisions of the Northeast-10, Bentley senior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) and Southern Connecticut senior guard Isaiah McLeod.
Richmond, the latest USBWA Division II National Player of the Week, was limited to 16 points by Adelphi after putting up 44 and 33 points in his previous two games. Number four on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,849 points, he's averaging 22.9 points while shooting an even .500 overall, 43 percent from three and 89 percent at the line.
McLeod has shot 51 percent from three in six games this month and is averaging 24 points in seven home games this season. Overall, he's fourth in the NE10 with a 21.3 average, trailing Richmond, Southern New Hampshire's Daquaise Andrews and Saint Anselm's Tim Guers.
Bentley's starting unit are all averaging over nine points a game. Richmond is followed by junior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton School) and sophomore guard Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS), who each produce 14-plus points a game. They lead the Falcons on the boards with Hudson averaging 8.6 rebounds, fourth best in the NE10, and Lawrence 6.8.
Senior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) owns a 9.8 average and after a career-best 18 points at Adelphi Wednesday, sophomore guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/ Thayer Academy) is up to 9.3.
All five Southern starters own double-digit scoring averages with McLeod followed by sophomore guard Ulyen Coleman at 16.0 and senior Kealen Ives at 13.8. Senior forward Luke Beasley makes 71 percent of his shot attempts and also leads the Northeast-10 in rebounding at 9.5 a game.
Both teams both average about 83 points a game, ranking in the top four in the conference, and each are in the top three in the NE10 in three-point accuracy at about 41 percent. Bentley has been better defensively, allowing 72 points a game on 43 percent shooting, while Southern's numbers are 76.5 points and 46 percent shooting.
Bentley will be looking to end a six-game losing streak against the Owls, one that began after the Falcons defeated Southern 20 straight times from 1994-2012. Last year's score was 75-67 with McLeod scoring 32 and Richmond 28.
After facing the Owls, Bentley will have a full week to prepare for a home game against Pace University on Feb. 2.