#24 Bentley Edges Stonehill for NE-10 Crown, 52-51

Senior Mike Kernan posted his 17th career double-double with 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds tonight. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Dowling's three-point play with 7.1-seconds left lifts Falcons to victory

EASTON, Mass. (February 23, 2011) – Bentley College, ranked 24th in this week's NABC Division II poll and first in the NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, claimed the Northeast-10 Conference regular season championship outright with a 52-51 victory over Stonehill College, receiving votes in the NABC poll and ranked second in the region, in NE-10 men's basketball action before a capacity crowd of 2,400 at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Stonehill (21-6, 16-6 NE-10) will be seeded third for the upcoming NE-10 Tournament and will host a quarterfinal round contest on Monday, February 28, at 7 p.m. The Skyhawks await the winner of Saturday's first round clash between sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Lowell and 11th-seeded Merrimack College. Bentley (20-6, 18-4 NE-10) will be seeded first in the NE-10 Tournament and will host the winner of Saturday's first round matchup between eighth-seeded Le Moyne College and ninth-seeded Saint Michael's College in the quarterfinals on Monday at 7 p.m.

Senior Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side) converted a conventional three-point play with 7.1-seconds on the clock to knot the score and then put Bentley up a point to claim the victory in the closing seconds. Grad student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Saint Thomas More) got a piece of Stonehill sophomore Brian Hamor's (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) three at the other end to seal the win.

Dowling finished with 12 points and four rebounds for Bentley. Senior Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Kimball Union Academy) led the Falcons with 14 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots, while sophomore Dan O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass./Lexington) contributed eight points, six rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals off the bench.

Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) led Stonehill with his eighth double-double of the season (17th career) as he posted 12 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds to go with three blocked shots. Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) added 16 points, shooting 8-for-19 from the field, six rebounds and two assists, while senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) posted ten points, shooting 3-for-4 from the field, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, and converting both free-throw attempts, three boards, two assists and two blocks.

Junior Ivan Almeida scored a game-high 16 points to go with six rebounds tonight. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Bentley shot 33.3-percent (18-for-54) from the field, including 4-for-16 (25%) from three-point range, but converted 12-of-14 (85.7%) free-throw attempts for the night. The Falcons edged Stonehill 11-8 on points off turnovers and 11-9 for second chance points and got a 16-4 scoring advantage off the bench. Stonehill finished shooting 37.5-percent (21-for-56) from the floor, including 2-for-16 (12.5%) from beyond the arc, while converting 7-of-8 (87.5%) free-throws. The Skyhawks edged the Falcons 36-35 on the glass.

Bentley led by five (43-38) after a Tracey three with 7:40 to play in regulation. Stonehill scored the next six points to regain the lead (44-43) on an Almeida jumper with 6:05 to play. The lead went back and forth until the Falcons took a two-point lead on a three-point play by Tracey with 3:31 to play. Bentley extended that lead to three (49-46) as O'Keefe made one of two at the line with 1:30 remaining, but Stonehill answered with a Heppert three to knot the score with 57-seconds left.

Kernan pulled down his 17th rebound of the night after junior Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop) missed a three at the other end. Kernan was fouled and drained both free-throws with 34-seconds remaining to give Stonehill a two point lead (51-49). Quinn missed a layup on the Falcons initial shot of the possession, but the rebound went out of bounds off a Skyhawk. After a timeout, Dowling got the ball and forced contact in the lane before scoring the tying basket, resulting in a free-throw for the lead and win.

The game featured 13 lead changes and seven ties with neither team leading by more than six points all night. Stonehill led the majority of the first half, opening a five point lead (18-13) with 7:45 remaining before halftime with two-straight baskets by Kernan. Bentley scored six-straight points to regain the lead after a Dowling jumper with 6:34 left before the break. The Skyhawks got two more baskets from Kernan to take a three point lead (22-19) with 5:30 left, but was held to just one basket the rest of the half as the Falcons were within one (24-23) at the intermission.

A jumper by Almeida and layup by sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) had Stonehill up five again (28-23) a minute and a half into the second frame. The Skyhawks lead grew to a game high six (33-27) with a three-point play from junior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) with 14:43 to play.

Bentley responded with a 13-2 run to regain the lead and take a game-high five point cushion (40-35) on a Dowling three with 8:10 to play. Sophomore Greg Jacques (Brockton, Mass./St. Sebastian's) sparked the run with a three-pointer, while Tracey scored four points during the run and Quinn put the Falcons in front (35-33) with a layup midway through the half.

Almeida had four points during a six-point Stonehill spurt to regain the lead (44-43) with 6:05 to play that setup the dramatic finish.