WALTHAM, Mass. – After a difficult loss to division-leading and nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College Saturday, the Bentley University men's basketball is looking at a pair of road games this week as they vie for playoff seeding in the fast-approaching Northeast-10 Conference Championships.
The first of the final two road contests of the regular season is Wednesday night when the Falcons will make their annual trip to Colchester, Vt. to take on St. Michael's College. Tip off at the Ross Sports Center is set for 7:30 pm with the webcast, as always, available on the NE10 NOW Digital Network.
Bentley, after their third loss by five or less in the last five games, will take records of 17-8 overall and 10-8 NE10 to Vermont Wednesday. The Falcons are third in the conference's Northeast Division, two back of second-place Merrimack College and a game up on fourth-place Franklin Pierce.
St. Michael's, which has been eliminated from NE10 tournament consideration, is 7-16 overall and 4-14 conference. The Purple Knights have won four of their last six home contests, including 76-67 over Assumption Saturday.
Wednesday's game will be the first for NE10 scoring leader Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./ Thomson Collegiate) since the senior guard became the fourth player in Bentley history to reach the 2,000 career point milestone.
Richmond, owner of a 24.0 scoring average, currently has 2,015 points and trails the number three scorer in Bentley history, Jason Westrol '10, by 53 points. He's on pace to break the single season points-per-game record for the second straight year and on Saturday, became the first player in program history with three career 600-point seasons.
The lineup for coach Jay Lawson has remained constant throughout the season with Richmond joined by senior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy), junior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton) and a pair of sophomore guards, Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS) and Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy).
Lawson relies heavily on that quintet with all but Gilpin playing at least 30 minutes and he's just shy of that mark, averaging 29. Richmond has played at least 38 minutes in 11 straight games, Hudson is playing 35.9 a game for the season and Mello-Klein 34.0.
Lawrence and Hudson follow Richmond on the Bentley scoring list, averaging 14.8 and 14.7 points respectively. Hudson leads the conference in both total and offensive rebounds with his per-game norm of 8.4 ranking fourth. Against Saint Anselm, he had his ninth double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Freshman Mason Webb (Oklahoma City, Okla./Bishop McGuinness HS) is the only non-starter who sees significant action. He averages 4.6 points with his 115 points just about half of the team's bench production.
Bentley leads Division II in free throw percentage (.825), due in large part to the efforts of Richmond. He gets to the line seven times a game and is connecting at a 90 percent clip.
St. Michael's features senior guard Levi Holmes III, whose 20.3 scoring average is currently fifth best in the Northeast-10. He led the conference with a 24.1 average last year and has 1,725 points for his career, seventh most in Purple Knight history.
The Purple Knights have a veteran starting unit with three seniors and a pair of juniors. The other seniors are guard Derek Cheatom and forward Winston Jones II. Cheatom averages 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds and Jones produces 7.6 points a game.
St. Michael's is tenth in the conference in scoring, averaging 72.1, and the 79.6 defensive average ranks 14th. The Purple Knights are in the top four in the NE10 in steals and blocks and are also fifth in rebounding margin.
In the earlier meeting between the two clubs, an 87-65 Falcon win back on Dec. 1, Bentley received a 20-point, 10-rebound effort from Hudson. It was a 51-28 game at the half following a 36-15 run over the final 14:20 of the first.
After visiting St. Michael's, Bentley's regular season will be down to two games, Saturday at Merrimack and home next Tuesday against Franklin Pierce.