WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) scored 24 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, and freshmen Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) and J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) combined for 27 off the bench, as Bentley University used 15 three-pointers to shoot down Southern Connecticut State, 80-75, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Bentley, which shot 50 percent from three-point land, remained undefeated after a loss this season and stayed in a tie for third place in the conference, the victory boosting the Falcons to 14-5 overall and 10-5 NE-10. Southern Connecticut fell to 8-11 overall and 6-9 conference despite 27 more field goal attempts.
Leclerc had an outstanding shooting game as he bettered his previous career best by four points. He was seven of 11 overall, including five of seven from outside the arc, and also converted 11 of 12 from the free throw stripe.
Koury drained four of five trifectas en route to a career-high 14, and Shaw, who entered the game ranked third in the NE-10 in three-point accuracy, made half of his six attempts from outside, finishing with 13 points.
SCSC sophomore forward Greg Langston (Stratford, Conn.) nearly matched Leclerc's output as he put 14 of 21 shots through the basket for 29 points.
With the game even at 56, Leclerc ignited a 7-0 Falcon burst with a foul line jumper with 8:05 on the clock. It stayed a two-point game for nearly two minutes until Koury sank a triple from the left corner, and junior Mike Topercer (Scottsdale, Ariz./New Hampton Prep) followed with two free throws to make it a 63-56 game with 5:15 left.
Bentley never relinquished the lead the rest of the way and it hit nine points, 71-62, when Leclerc threw in a long three with 1:35 left. The Owls, on a Langston three-ball, pulled to within five at 74-69 with 50.2 seconds on the clock, but Leclerc helped his team lock up the victory by making five of six from the stripe in the final 49 seconds.
The late nine-point lead matched the Falcons' high of the game, which was achieved following a first-half 13-2 run that made it 31-22 with 3:56 left until the break. Leclerc was in the middle of that surge as well, scoring all six of his first-half points during the spurt.
But by the time the two clubs headed to the locker room, Southern was up by two, 34-32, after closing with a 12-1 run of its own. Freshman guard Tylon Smith (Manchester, Conn.) had two treys and Langston had the final six.
Bentley was probably lucky to be as close as it was at the half after having nearly as many turnovers (14) as shot attempts (17). The Owls converted those turns into 19 points, and also had six second-chance points, with Langston leading the first-half scoring with 16.
Before breaking the 56-all tie, Leclerc twice gave the Falcons a second-half lead with a triple. The first opened the scoring after play resumed and the second made it 43-42.
Koury and Leclerc were Bentley's top rebounders, finishing with seven and six respectively as the Falcons were even with the Owls on the glass, 33 apiece.
Sophomore guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) was the fourth double-figure scorer for Bentley, finishing with 11 points, and the productive game from the Falcon bench also included seven points (all at the line) and five assists from Topercer.
Bentley, which attempted two-thirds of its shots from outside the arc for the second straight game, finished at 47 percent for the game while Southern closed at 44 percent, with 11 more made baskets. The Falcons took better care of the basketball in the second half (only seven turns in the final 20 minutes) and had a major advantage at the line. They made 23 of 28 while the Owls, who only attempted five.
Bentley, in the midst of a three-game homestand, will host Merrimack College Tuesday at 7:30 pm.