WALTHAM, Mass. – Forwards Ellis Cooper (Northampton) and Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.) combined for 37 points, including 25 in the second half, as Franklin Pierce University topped Bentley University 78-58 in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Tuesday night at the Dana Center.
Franklin Pierce remained a game out of first in the NE-10, improving to 18-6 overall and 14-6 conference. The outcome left Bentley in a three-way tie for fifth place at 15-9 overall and 11-9 NE-10.
The Falcons, who trailed by only two at the break despite 15 turnovers, claimed the lead at 31-28 when senior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS), who had the best rebounding game of his career, opened the second half by burying a three-ball from the right wing.
Senior guard Nigel Van Oostrom (Sheffield, England) matched it for Franklin Pierce, with his three-ball launching a 10-0 spurt that grew to 34-14 over a ten-minute span. That burst put the visitors up by 19, 64-45, with nine minutes left.
Bentley took a dent out of the deficit by scoring the next six points, but never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
It was a streaky first half as Bentley got out to a 6-2 stat by holding the Ravens to 1-for-8 shooting with five turnovers over the first six minutes. Franklin Pierce came alive after that, knocking five three-pointers over the next seven minutes to open a 26-18 lead with six minutes left until intermission.
Bentley ran off the next seven, a flurry capped by a trey from freshman guard J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) to get within one at 26-25. After a pair of FPU lay-ups, Falcon sophomore guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) connected from downtown to close out the first-half scoring.
Grassa led the Falcons with 14 points, with his line including three triples in six attempts from outside the arc. Leclerc followed with 12 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, with 11 of his boards coming in the first half.
Koury added 10 points and four assists off the bench and freshman forward Jate Cheshul (Galloway, N.J./Holy Spirit HS) had the highest scoring game of his young career with nine points, along with four rebounds.
Vilmont knocked down three from outside the arc en route to his 19 points, and Cooper followed with 18 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Franklin Pierce's 56 percent shooting after the break helped the Ravens finish at 46 percent, 10 percent higher than the Falcons were from the field. Bentley had a 41-38 rebound advantage but that wasn't enough to overcome a season-high 27 turnovers, which led to 28 Raven points.
Bentley is back in action Saturday when it will host Stonehill at 3:30 in the final home game of the regular season.