SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Junior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate HS) scored a season-high 31 points, including nine during a 24-3 second half blitz that turned the game around, as Bentley University rebounded for a 73-60 win over American International College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley dominated the boards 45-27, and outscored the Yellow Jackets 42-18 in the second half to improve to 9-6 overall and 6-4 NE10. AIC continued its season-long pattern of following two wins with two losses, falling to 8-8 overall and 3-5 conference.
As has been the case for Bentley since mid-December, it was a tale of two halves. It marked the sixth straight game the Falcons have won the second half after being outscored in the first. During the final 20 minutes, coach Jay Lawson's team limited AIC to the same number of field goals (8) as it did in the game's opening five minutes in falling behind 19-8 and one less point.
The Falcons, who trailed by as many as 13 in the opening stanza and by 11 (42-31) at the half, were still looking at a 50-39 deficit with 14 minutes to play.
The comeback began with a lay-up by sophomore forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/ Northampton Williston School), an elbow jumper by Richmond and a put-back by freshman forward Pete Blust (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central HS) making it a five-point game, 50-45 with 11:45 left.
Following an AIC free throw, junior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) and Richmond both buried three-balls from the left wing, with Richmond's knotting the contest at 51-all with 7:36 left.
AIC sophomore forward Zekiah Owens (Spencerport, N.Y.) interrupted the Bentley surge with a transition lay-up with 7:51 left but the Falcons answered right back. Freshman guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy) dropped in a triple from the left corner to not only give his team their first lead of the night but one they would never give back.
Mello-Klein's three started a stretch of 12 unanswered for the Falcons with the run also including a drive for two by sophomore guard Seth Stankiewicz (Reading, Pa./Hill School), both a 17-foot pull-up and a seven-foot step back by Richmond, and a Stankiewicz three from the left wing that made it a 10-point spread, 63-53.
The 13-point final margin matched Bentley's biggest of the night, one that was first achieved at 68-55 on a Richmond drive with 3:28 left.
Richmond, who has put up 82 points in his last three games, also provided four rebounds, three assists and a couple steals while making half of his 26 field goal attempts.
Stankiewicz was the only other Falcon to score in doubles, coming off the bench to deliver three treys en route to 11 points. Senior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS) provided nine rebounds, eight points and four steals, and Mello-Klein's line included eight rebounds, seven points and five assists.
Owens led AIC with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Bentley outshot the Jackets 58-28 percent after intermission and finished the game with a 49-37 percent advantage, despite the fact AIC started 8-of-9. The Falcons survived 22 turnovers by scoring 22 points off the Yellow Jackets' 14 turns.
Bentley will also be on the road Saturday for a 3:30 pm game at the University of New Haven.