WEST HAVEN, Conn. -- Junior guard Elijah Bailey (Freeport, N.Y.) made three free throws with 10 seconds left and came up with a steal just before the buzzer, giving the University of New Haven Chargers a 70-69 win over the Bentley University Falcons in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Men's Basketball Championships Sunday afternoon at Charger Gymnasium.
The victory in the tightly-contested game – the two clubs were never separated by more than seven points – lifted the Chargers to 19-8 and propelled them into Wednesday's semifinals against crosstown rival Southern Connecticut State University.
Bailey led his team with 18 points and five rebounds. For Bentley, junior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton) had a game-high 22 points, including 12 of 13 from the free throw stripe, and five rebounds.
Senior All-Region guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) struggled from the field but twice gave the Falcons the lead coming down the stretch. He broke a 64-all tie with a step-back jumper from the foul line extended with 1:44 to play and drained a top-of-the-key three with 18.9 on the clock for a 69-67 Bentley advantage.
Bailey was fouled attempting a three with ten seconds to play. After he made the first, Bentley coach Jay Lawson tried to ice him with a pair of full timeouts. It didn't affect the Chargers' leading scorer as he sank the next two, putting New Haven on top by one.
Richmond brought the ball down court, but was stripped in the lane with Bailey coming away with the ball and securing the victory for the Chargers.
New Haven scored the game's first seven points, including a three from Bailey, before the Falcons countered with nine straight to produce the first of 16 lead changes. That flurry included four points from sophomore guard Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS), a three-point play by Hudson and a three-ball from senior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy).
Bentley led 20-17 after the second three of the game, and third of the season, by freshman forward Adria Amabilino Perez (Nottinghamshire, England). New Haven answered with a 14-5 spurt, a run that included five points and two assists from freshman guard Quashawn Lane (Newark, N.J.), for a 31-25 lead with 4:13 left in the opening half.
The final six points belonged to the Falcons and the two clubs went into the break even at 31. Hudson converted a three-point play and Gilpin knocked down a three from the right wing.
An 11-4 New Haven run, capped by a three from junior guard Derrick Rowland (Cohoes, N.Y.) with 7:28 to play gave the home team a 57-50 lead.
Bentley was still down six, 64-58, with 3:45 to play, but battled back with six unanswered to forge a 64-all tie. Richmond hit a jumper, Hudson made two of his ten free throws and sophomore guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon, Mass./ Thayer Academy) hit a game-tying jumper in the paint. The run hit 8-0 when Richmond hit the first of his two go-ahead baskets in the final two minutes.
Hudson was followed in the scoring column by Richmond, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting, along with six rebounds. He surpassed Jason Westrol '10 on Bentley's all-time scoring list and finished the game, and potentially his career, with 2,081 points, third in program history and 37 short of the school record.
Mello-Klein followed with ten points, five rebounds and a career-high five steals. Gilpin had nine points and six rebounds, and both Lawrence and Amabilino Perez scored six.
In addition to 18 from Bailey, New Haven received 13 points from junior forward Roy Kane Jr. (Norwalk, Conn.) and 12 from Rowland.
New Haven shot better, 48-40 percent, and made two more threes, 11-9, but Bentley had a significant edge at the line, making 14 of 17 while the Chargers made and attempted just five. Rebounds (34-31) and turnovers (7-10) also favored the visitors, but it wasn't enough for the Falcons to avoid their third one-possession loss since the beginning of February.