WALTHAM, Mass. – Bentley University junior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) poured in a season-high 26 points and freshman teammate Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) put up his seventh double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Falcons were edged by St. Michael's College, 66-62, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Tuesday night at the Dana Center.
St. Michael's used a balanced attack with all five starters scoring at least eight points and sophomore forward James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla.) topping the list with 15 points and nine boards.
Bentley, after falling behind by as many as 14 in the second half, used a string of 11 unanswered points to draw into a 47-all tie with 7:04 left. Grassa began the run with a corner three and followed with a driving lay-up. Freshman forward Shakir Phelps (Linden, N.J./Linden HS) connected on a triple from the right corner, and McFarland converted a three-point play for the tie.
After a Grassa steal, the Falcons had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but St. Michael's senior forward Derek Knutty (Rocklin, Calif.) took it back for the Purple Knights. That led to a short jumper by sophomore Dom Ditlefsen (Portland, Ore.) and put SMC in front for good.
Following the Ditlefsen basket, St. Michael's scored five second-chance points to make it a 7-0 run and a 54-47 lead with 3:38 left. Freshman guard Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J.) followed his own miss with a lay-up, and another offensive board led to a Ditlefsen three from the left wing.
A lay-up and a pair of free throws by Bentley sophomore guard J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./ CBA) brought the Falcons to within three, 54-51, with 2:12 left. St. Michael's countered with a 9-2 run, including a pair of Cambronne baskets, to stretch the differential to nine with 45.7 seconds left.
Grassa connected three times from beyond the arc in the final 40 seconds, but four free throws by sophomore guard Corey Crawford II (Dover, Del.) in the final 16 seconds helped St. Michael's hold off the Falcons.
Both teams had trouble getting untracked offensively in a first half which ended with the Purple Knights up 26-21 after a 7-3 spurt in the final 4:31. That stanza saw the Falcons endure a scoreless drought of 5:25 and ended with only three Bentley points, a McFarland triple, in the final 6:30.
Grassa, who complemented his 26 points with three assists and two steals, buried six of ten three-pointers and was 9-of-16 overall. McFarland was perfect on three tries from downtown and finished 7 of 12 overall. Koury was the only other Falcon to score more than three, finishing with 10, as well as four steals.
Cambronne was followed in the scoring column by Grippo and Crawford, with 14 and 13, respectively.
Both teams shot 43 percent overall and 32 percent in the first half, but the Vermonters were more efficient in the second, connecting at a 60 percent clip as compared to Bentley's .517. The Falcons actually outscored SMC from the field by five points, but St. Michael's had nine more free throws (15-6), most coming in the waning minutes.
The Purple Knights also had the rebounding edge, 34-29, and a 19-14 advantage in points off turnovers despite giving the ball away 17 times, one more than Bentley.
The outcome left both teams at 7-15 overall with Bentley (5-13 NE-10) one game better in the conference.
Bentley will also play at home on Saturday, a 3:30 pm encounter with Southern New Hampshire.