LOWELL, Mass. -- Senior forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) scored 19 points and drew three charges, and junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) had his highest scoring game as a collegian (15 points), as Bentley University overcame a slow start to best UMass-Lowell 65-61 in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Costello Athletic Center.
Bentley, with its fifth straight win, claimed sole possession of first place in the Northeast-10 as the Falcons (5-2 overall) improved their conference record to 4-0. UMass-Lowell, which entered the game as the only NCAA Division II East Region team without a loss, fell to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
UMass-Lowell had an early 13-point first-half lead and Bentley was up as many as nine in the second half, but with two minutes to play, the score was knotted at 61 apiece. Senior forward Joe Fremeau (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) broke the tie with 1:51 left, his only basket of the evening coming off an assist from senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS).
Akeem Williams (Brockton), UMass-Lowell's top scorer with 24 points, lost the ball on the ensuing possession, the first of three turnovers for the freshman in the final 80 seconds. Following a Bentley miss that went out of bounds to the River Hawks, Williams was stripped by graduate guard Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) with about 15 seconds left.
Quinn was immediately fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 14.3 seconds remaining. Tracey grabbed the offensive rebound, but lost the ball on a bad pass. Williams came up with the steal, but once again turned it over. Tracey was fouled and secured the outcome by sinking two free throws with 3.5 seconds left, making it a two-possession game.
UMass-Lowell was hot from the opening tip, making 10 of its first 11 shots to vault out to a 22-10 lead about five-and-a-half minutes into the contest. Williams had eight during the quick start and freshman Antonio Bivins (Miami, Fla.) had the final six.
Bentley, down 26-16 approximately midway through the half, went into the break up five at 39-34 after limiting the River Hawks to only three field goals in the final 10 minutes of the opening stanza. Leclerc had 12 in the half, matching his previous career-best (set twice this season and at Maryland two years ago when playing for Bryant). Backcourt mates Quinn and Greg Jacques (Brockton/St. Sebastian's HS) added eight and seven points, respectively, and Tracey had nine before the break.
Lay-ups by Tracey and Jacques in the first minute of the second half pushed the lead to nine, but UMass-Lowell replied with a 13-3 surge to take a one-point advantage, 47-46. After falling behind by three, Bentley used a 13-4 spurt to go up a half-dozen, 61-55. Dowling had five of his six points during that stretch.
Lowell wasn't done as they ran off six in a row, the last four scored by Williams, to even the game at 61 with 2:15 left.
Tracey's night included six rebounds and eight of 11 from the line as he made more free throws than UMass-Lowell attempted (7). As a team, the Falcons attempted 23 from the stripe and came away with the point 17 times.
Jacques was the third Falcon to score in doubles, finishing with 11, along with four assists. Quinn followed with eight.
UMass-Lowell outshot the Falcons 45-36 percent, but was limited to just 34 percent after the red-hot start.
Bentley is back at home Saturday afternoon for a 3:30 pm encounter with Franklin Pierce University.
At Lowell, Mass. (Costello Athletic Center)
BENTLEY 65, UMASS LOWELL 61
BENTLEY (5-2, 4-0 NE-10) -- Brian Tracey 5-10 8-11 19; Sam Leclerc 5-10 2-2 15; Greg Jacques 4-9 2-2 11; Mike Quinn 3-9 0-1 8; Tom Dowling 1-11 3-4 6; Joe Fremeau 1-3 2-2 4; Kevin Kettl 1-2 0-0 2; Dan O'Keefe 0-0 0-1 0; Jasper Grassa 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-55 17-23 65.
UMASS LOWELL (4-1, 2-1 NE-10) -- Akeem Williams 9-23 2-2 24; Antonio Bivins 6-11 0-0 12; Romeo Diaz 4-8 0-0 8; Darrell Ward 4-5 0-0 8; Robbie Walton 1-5 4-5 7; Kerry Weldon 1-1 0-0 2; Heman Honore 0-2 0-0 0; Nomso Emetarom 0-0 0-0 0; John Corbacio 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 6-7 61.
Halftime: B 39-34; 3-point goals--B 8-25 (Leclerc 3-6; Quinn 2-8; Tracey 1-3; Dowling 1-4; Jacques 1-3; Grassa 0-1), UML 5-17 (Williams 4-10; Walton 1-2; Diaz 0-4; Bivins 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--B 32 (Fremeau, Tracey 6), UML 35 (Diaz 8). Assists--B 12 (Jacques 4), UML 11 (Diaz 5). Total fouls--B 8, UML 20. Technical fouls--Bivins.