WALTHAM, Mass. – After being denied by Adelphi University in its bid for sole possession of first place in the Northeast-10 Conference, the Bentley University men's basketball will look to rebound Saturday against one of the four teams that it is currently tied for second place with, the University of New Haven.
Game time at the Charger Gymnasium in West Haven, Conn. Is an unusual 1:30 pm as the men's teams from the two universities will play the opening game of the NE-10 twinbill, with the women's game following at 3:30 pm.
The Falcons and Chargers will enter the contest with identical records, 12-4 overall and 8-4 in the very competitive NE-10. Both have two wins and two losses in their last four games after getting off to 10-2 starts to the season. In keeping with the comparisons, both Bentley and New Haven lost on their home court to Adelphi and each also dropped a game at Pace. And each has a win over the two teams they share second place with, Stonehill and Franklin Pierce.
New Haven and Bentley are the top two defensive teams in the conference in terms of field goal percentage. The Chargers limit their opponents to an accuracy rate of .388, marginally better than Bentley's .389, and both squads keep their opponents to 32 percent from three. The Chargers give up five less points a game, yielding only 59.9, and the Falcons score about four more per game, averaging 71.2.
Contrasts have Bentley leading the NE-10 in three-pointers (10.2 per game) and fewest fouls committed (13.0 average). On the other hand, New Haven is one of the conference's best in rebounding (+5.0 as compared to the Falcons' -2.2) and in blocked shots (5.0 per game).
Bentley's offense features the backcourt of sophomore Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) and senior Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS). They are two of the six NE-10 players who have made at least 40 three-pointers and both are also shooting the three with better than 40 percent accuracy. Grassa leads the team at 14.8 points per game, and Leclerc follows at 14.1, including 17.3 on the road.
The other primary three-point threat for the Falcons is the sixth-highest scoring non-starter in the conference, freshman forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy). He shoots 44 percent from downtown and is averaging 10 points a game.
While Bentley is perennially at or near the top of the conference (six NE-10 regular season titles in the last seven years), New Haven is one of the most improved teams in the conference this winter. The Chargers are already within one victory of matching their total number of wins from the last two seasons (8-18 last year, 5-22 in 2009-10).
Sophomore guard Justin Exum powers the Charger attack. He's connected 44 times from three and is averaging 15.9 points, eighth best in the conference. Six-foot-eight freshman Eric Anderson follows at 9.9 ppg, and he's number two in the NE-10 in blocked shots with 37.
Before its next Dana Center appearance (next Saturday against Southern Connecticut), Bentley will also make a trip to Syracuse for a Wednesday night meeting with Le Moyne College.