WALTHAM, Mass. – Had a buzzer-beating three-point attempt been on the mark Wednesday night at Le Moyne, the Bentley University men's basketball team would have been in a three-way tie at the top of the very congested Northeast-10 Conference standings.
Instead, the Falcons left the court on the short end of a 66-64 score, and instead of sharing first place, are a game back of co-leaders Adelphi University and Stonehill College, in a four-way tie for third place. Amazing, the top six teams are all 13-5 overall this season with about a month left in the regular season.
Coach Jay Lawson's team will look to get back on the winning track Saturday when the Falcons host Southern Connecticut State at the Dana Center at 3:30 pm in the first of a three-game homestand. The Owls will come to Waltham at 8-10 overall and in a six-team tie for ninth place in a conference that will see ten teams qualify for the playoffs.
Thus far this season, Bentley has an unblemished record in the game following a loss, bouncing back to defeat Bridgeport, Southern New Hampshire, American International and New Haven. Other than AIC, those teams are all in the midst of winning seasons.
Guards Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) and Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) continue to sit atop the scoring list for the Falcons, with averages of 14.3 and 13.9, respectively. Grassa's 52 three-pointers are tied for second most in the conference, and he's prospered at home this season, putting up nearly 18 points a game. Leclerc, with 45 threes and a .446 accuracy mark from downtown, is one of only two NE-10 players in the top ten in both threes made and percentage from outside the arc.
Junior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) and freshman forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) are Bentley's other double-figure scorers. O'Keefe is currently at 11.8 and Shaw's production is up to 10.9 after hitting 11 three-balls in the last two games.
Shaw, third in the conference in three-point shooting (.483), has had his three highest scoring games of the season since Jan. 11, a stretch in which he's averaged close to 14 points. At Le Moyne Wednesday, he buried six treys en route to a 20-point effort off the bench.
Only seven Northeast-10 players are averaging at least 16 points a game and Southern Connecticut has two of those, six-foot-three sophomore Greg Langston and six-foot-six junior Trevon Hamlet. Langston, whose cousin Dominique is the Owls' third double-figure scorer (12.5 ppg), averages 16.8 points, three-tenths of a point better than Hamlet.
Hamlet is the conference's premier shot blocker, having rejected the ball 46 times, and Greg Langston tops the Owls in steals (28). Dominique Langston and Hamlet are the club's leading rebounders, each claiming over six a game.
Southern will come into the Dana Center with six losses in its last eight games, but both victories have come on the road, 60-57 at Merrimack and 74-70 at Saint Anselm. The Owls are the second highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 74.2 overall, but they are last in scoring defense, giving up 75.9.
In contrast, Bentley has only allowed three teams to score more than 67 this season. The Falcons are one of three NE-10 teams holding its opponents under 40 percent from the floor for the season and the Division II national leader in fewest fouls committed,
Bentley's homestand will continue with Merrimack visiting on Tuesday and Saint Anselm next Saturday.