COLCHESTER, Vt. – Senior All-Region guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) scored 26 points, including 20 in a stretch of seven minutes, as Bentley University held on for a 77-74 win over Saint Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Ross Sports Center.
Bentley, the number six team in this week's NCAA Division Ii East Region rankings, improved to 18-8 overall and 11-8 conference. The Falcons moved to within one game of Merrimack in the battle for second place in the conference with two left.
The Falcons, who had built a 17-point lead, saw it shrivel to three when junior guard Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y.) completed the game's scoring with two free throws with 2:03 to play. That finished a 26-12 Purple Knight run that included the seventh, eighth and ninth three-pointers of the game for senior guard Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J.).
Following missed shots by Bentley sophomore guard Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS) and Richmond, Holmes was off the mark on what would have been his tenth triple. The Falcons turned the ball over on the ensuing possession but this time Guzman misfired and the Purple Knights tracked down the rebound.
On the second opportunity, Holmes missed a lay-up and Lawrence secured his ninth rebound with 13.2 seconds left. St. Michael's promptly sent him to the line where he was off the mark on both, giving the home team another chance. This time, a three from the right corner by sophomore forward Jordan Heter wound up in the hands of Falcon freshman Mason Webb (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness HS) just before the final horn sounded.
Five of Holmes' three-pointers came during a 19-3 explosion that gave St Michael's 26-16 lead with eight minutes to play in the first half.
About 90 seconds later, with the Falcons on the short end of a 29-21 score and Richmond still scoreless, the number four scorer in program history was fouled attempting a triple. He made all three, breaking J.P. Koury's school record for consecutive free throws made in the process, and was off and running. The streak hit 39 before he missed later in the half.
Those three from the line launched a 21-7 Falcon burst that put Bentley up 42-36 at the half. Richmond had 16 of the 21, including a three from the right wing, a transition lay-up off a steal, a put-back seconds later, a fall-away jumper from the baseline and a straight-away 24-footer just before the horn.
Richmond kept it going with two baskets in the opening 31 seconds of the second half, giving him 20 in a stretch of slightly more than seven minutes. With a three, sophomore guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon, Mass./Thayer Academy) made it a 7-0 burst to start the second half and a 49-36 lead.
The Falcon advantage hit 17 three times before St. Michael's launched its comeback bid.
Richmond, who pushed his career point total to 2,041[LR1] , made nine of 16 overall, two of four from deep and six of eight free throws. He also gave his team four steals, four rebounds and three assists.
Lawrence followed with 15, including 10 in the first six-and-a-half minutes, and ten from Mello-Klein. Senior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton) and senior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) followed with eight apiece and Webb pitched in with seven points and five rebounds off the bench.
Holmes finished with 35 points while making nine of 14 triples and three of seven inside the arc. Guzman also had a strong game with 16 points and eight helpers.
Both teams shot better from deep with Bentley 11 of 24 and St. Michael's 14 of 28. Overall, both teams finished just over 43 percent.
The Falcons had two more rebounds (35-33), eight more free throws (14-6) and four less turns (9-13). And even though offensive rebounds were similar (13 for the Falcons, 12 for SMC), the visitors took much more advantage with 18 second-chance points to the Knights' six.
Bentley's final road trip of the regular season is Saturday when the Falcons visit Merrimack for a 3:30 pm game.