WALTHAM, Mass. – The Northeast Division's number three seed will be on the line when the Bentley University men's basketball team hosts Franklin Pierce University in the regular season finale Tuesday night at the Dana Center. Tip-off for the Senior Day game is set for 7:30 pm with a free webcast available on the NE10 Digital Network.
Bentley, 18-9 overall and Franklin Pierce, 15-12, enter the finale deadlocked in the Northeast Division, each with 11-9 conference records.
Tuesday's winner will be the third seed out of the Northeast-10 and will draw a first-round bye in the conference championships before playing a quarterfinal game at the Southwest Division's still-to-be-determined second seed on Sunday.
The losing team will be the fourth seed and will host Pace University, the Southwest's number five team, on Friday night. The winner of that game will meet the Southwest number one seed on Sunday in the quarters.
The two teams met up in Rindge, N.H. back in later November with the Bentley Falcons coming away with a 93-79 victory. All five Falcon starters scored in doubles, with senior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate)l leading the way with 20, and Bentley shot 56 percent, including 13 of 20 from outside the arc.
After a 15-2 start, Bentley has dropped seven of its last ten, including 65-54 at Merrimack Saturday. The Falcons led the Warriors by four with under eight minutes to play before being outscored 18-3 over a stretch of 6:20.
Richmond, who'll be recognized along with classmate Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) pregame, was kept in check by Merrimack (only 5 points) but continues to lead the NE10 in scoring with a 23.4 average. The only player in program history with three career 600-point seasons, Richmond has totaled 2,046 points during his career, fourth most in program history.
He will begin Tuesday's game needing 23 to surpass Jason Westrol '10 for third place all-time and 72 away from Tyler McFarland's school record 2,118.
Richmond has been consistent over the last three years with this year's 23.4 scoring norm following 22.6 as a sophomore and school record 23.6 last season. During that span, his field goal percentage has been .482, .483 and .482.
The starting lineup for coach Jay Lawson has not varied with Richmond joined by Gilpin, junior Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton) and sophomores Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy) and Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS).
Lawrence, coming off a 21-point effort against Merrimack, has a team-best 62 three-pointers and is second in both scoring (15.0) and rebounding (6.9). Hudson (14.4 ppg) leads Bentley in field goal percentage (.511) and is the top offensive rebounder in the conference (78).
Bentley's offense has tailed off this month with the Falcons averaging 70.9 points while shooting .413 overall and .333 from three. Those numbers compare to 83.1 points, .497 field goal and .413 threes entering the month.
Franklin Pierce, the fourth highest scoring team in the conference at 81.9 points per game, has won six of its last eight games, including 80-69 over Southern New Hampshire Saturday. On the other hand, the Ravens have dropped four of their last five road contests with the lone victory coming last Wednesday at Assumption.
While Bentley has used only one starting lineup all season, the same cannot be said for Franklin Pierce. No player has started every contest and coach David Chadbourne has given the nod to 13 different players during the course of the season.
The Ravens, like the Falcons, have three players who are averaging in double figures. Junior guard Doyin Fadojutimi tops the list at 16.7. He also is the team's top rebounder (5.5) and has a team-high 64 three-pointers.
Falu Seck, also a junior guard, puts up 14 a game and grad student Jeremy Arthur, a Trinity transfer, provides 11.4 points a game. Arthur has been impressive from deep, making 61 while shooting 43 percent.