WALTHAM, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team won at perennial regional power Bentley University for the third straight season, a program first, pulling out of a late tie for a 66-62 triumph on Tuesday in the Dana Physical Education Center. The Purple Knights, who have won four of their last six in the series, are 7-15 overall and 4-14 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Falcons fell to 7-15 and 5-13.
Sophomore James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla./The Winchendon School) led a balanced scoring effort for Saint Michael's with 15 points and nine rebounds, while first-year Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) had 14 points. Sophomore Corey Crawford II (Dover, Del./The Phelps School) shot 7-of-8 on free throws en route to 13 points and seven boards, and classmate Mike Thompson (Rosedale, N.Y./Christ The King Regional) had 10 points and two blocks. Senior Derek Knutty (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney) snagged six caroms.
The Purple Knights shot 15-of-18 on free throws while going 5-of-8 from three-point range in the second half to overcome Bentley's 51.7-percent shooting performance in the period, including 7-of-14 from deep.
Junior Jasper Grassa (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical) had a game-high 26 points for the Falcons, burying 6-of-10 long-range shots, while first-year Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Cushing Academy) turned in 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) added 10 points and four steals.
In a tie contest and a little more than six minutes remaining, sophomore Dom Ditlefsen (Portland, Ore./Sunset) scored five points during a 7-0 Saint Michael's run, including hitting a go-ahead jumper at 6:13 that gave the visitors the lead for good. Two Koury free throws made it 54-51 at 2:13, but Cambronne responded with a lay-up before his dunk at 54 seconds countered a Koury hoop and produced a 60-53 score. Grassa hit three threes in the final 36 seconds to twice draw the Falcons within four, but Crawford turned in his 7-of-8 free throw showing while helping his team go 8-of-10 in the final 1:11 to seal the victory.
The teams faced four ties and three lead changes during the opening half. With his team down 9-7, Knutty provided a pair of buckets during a 6-0 run, and the Purple Knights held Bentley scoreless for 5:29 in the opening half of the period. Clinging to a 19-18 edge, Saint Michael's went on a 10-3 run that bridged halftime, with Grippo's triple putting his team up 29-21 just 33 seconds into the second stanza.
After McFarland hit a three to pull the hosts within 34-28 at 16:03, the Purple Knights' advantage ballooned to as many as 14, at 44-30, on a Cambronne triple at 12:29. His jumper with 10:52 remaining still had the visitors on top by a 46-34 count, and Cambronne's freebie at 9:48 created a 47-36 game before Bentley scored the next 11 points in a 2:18 stretch, with McFarland's three-point play with 7:05 to go knotting the contest.
Saint Michael's returns home for Senior Day on Saturday, as it faces Stonehill College at 3:30 p.m.