WALTHAM, Mass. -- Senior All-Conference forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) posted his sixth double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds, as Bentley University outscored visiting St. Michael's College 34-13 over the final 14 minutes to post a 67-54 victory in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Men's Basketball Championships Monday night at the Dana Center.
The top-seeded Falcons, ranked 24th nationally in Division II and first in the East Region, will host fourth-seeded Saint Rose, a 92-82 winner over Saint Anselm, in the semifinals on Thursday night. The other semi will pit seventh-seeded Adelphi at number six UMass-Lowell after the two upended second-seeded American International and third-seeded Stonehill, respectively.
Bentley, down 33-30 at the break following a first half in which St. Michael's sizzled from three (8 of 14), misfired on 10 of its first 11 second-half shots and faced a 41-33 deficit before getting untracked.
The comeback began with an 11-2 spurt that put Bentley up 44-43 just past the midpoint of the second half, the Falcons' first lead since 17-16. Tracey had three lay-ups during the run, grad student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) also had a basket and freshman Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) made three in a row from the line after being fouled while attempting a three.
St. Michael's sophomore Travis Warech (Pine Brook, N.J.) countered with his sixth triple of the night, giving the Purple Knights the lead back briefly at 46-44. Quinn responded with a trey from well outside the arc, and the Falcons stayed in front the rest of the way.
Quinn's 224th career three began a 13-2 spurt that opened a nine-point lead (57-48) with 5:31 to play. Grassa and Tracey hit threes of their own, and after a Purple Knight basket, the run continued with two free throws from sophomore forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) and a driving lay-up from junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS).
Consecutive lay-ups from senior Nate Birr (Burnsville, Minn.) brought St. Michael's back to within five, 59-54, with 3:24 remaining, but those points proved to be the final ones of the season for the Purple Knights.
Two defensive stops by Quinn, a steal and a drawn charge, each led to three-point plays, by Leclair and Tracey, that pushed the Falcon lead to 11, 65-54, with just under two minutes left. Quinn and senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS) each hit one of two from the line in the final 81 seconds to account for the final score.
Led by Warech and freshman Michael Holton, Jr. (Portland, Ore.), St. Michael's buried five triples during a 17-8 first-half run that opened a 33-25 lead on the regular season conference championships. Five points by O'Keefe in the final 1:15 enabled the Falcons to make it a one-possession game at the break.
Tracey, who moved into a tie for 14th on Bentley's all-time scoring list with Jamie Baker (1460 points), scored 12 of his 18 in the second half. Dowling was the team's other double-figure scorer as he finished with 12, which pushed his career total over 1,100, and two steals. O'Keefe and Grassa (six rebounds) followed with nine apiece, the duo helping the Falcons enjoy a 20-4 edge in bench points.
Holton and Warech were each kept in check after intermission after both poured in 15 first-half points. Holton led all scorers with 19 points and Warech, 5-of-6 from downtown before the break, tallied 18.
Bentley outshot the Knights 50-36 percent in the second half and finished with a slight edge overall, .442 to .423. St. Michael's finished with nine threes, to Bentley's five, but was off the mark on nine of ten after the break.
The Falcons finished at plus-six in the rebounding department (34-28), had a substantial advantage in points off turnovers (18-7) and had a bigger edge at the line. Bentley was 16 of 21 at the stripe and committed only six fouls, with St. Michael's making only one free throw (in four tries).
Bentley and Saint Rose met once during the regular season with the Falcons prevailing 83-60 in Albany on Jan. 26.
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 67, SAINT MICHAEL'S 54
SAINT MICHAEL'S (13-15) -- Michael Holton, Jr. 8-16 0-0 19; Travis Warech 6-13 0-0 18; Nate Birr 3-10 0-2 6; Tyler Schilling 2-3 1-2 5; Chris Hurley 1-3 0-0 2; Derek Knutty 1-3 0-0 2; Tom Ward 1-4 0-0 2; Sebast. Brandstetter 0-0 0-0 0; John Reiser 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-52 1-4 54
BENTLEY (21-6) -- Brian Tracey 7-16 2-3 18; Tom Dowling 4-11 4-6 12; Dan O'Keefe 3-6 3-3 9; Jasper Grassa 2-4 3-3 9; Sam Leclerc 3-6 1-1 7; Mike Quinn 2-5 1-3 6; Joe Fremeau 1-2 2-2 4; Greg Jacques 1-2 0-0 2; Kevin Kettl 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 16-21 67.
Halftime: SM 33-30; 3-point goals--SM 9-24 (Warech 6-10; Holton 3-7; Hurley 0-1; Ward 0-3; Birr 0-3), B 5-17 (Tracey 2-5; Grassa 2-3; Quinn 1-3; Leclerc 0-2; O'Keefe 0-1; Dowling 0-3). Fouled out-- Schilling. Rebounds--SM 28 (Schilling 9), B 34 (Tracey 11). Assists--SM 15 (Birr 7), B 11 (Leclerc 4). Total fouls--SM 19, B 6. Technical fouls--None.