COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team fell to regionally-ranked Bentley University, 80-61, on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center during Northeast-10 Conference action. The Purple Knights slipped to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in the league, while the Falcons, who are tied for eighth in the latest D2SIDA East Region Media Poll, are 6-1 and 4-0.
Junior Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) scored 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting with six rebounds to pace the hosts, while classmate Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) had 15 points thanks to 3-of-5 three-point shooting, breaking a tie with Ben Smith '04 for 12th in program history with 145 career threes. Sophomore Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) added 12 points while hitting all four free throw tries. Classmate Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) pulled six rebounds, and redshirt sophomore Stan Foster (Rochester, N.Y./Avon Old Farms School) knocked down a pair of triples.
The Purple Knights were taking on a Bentley squad leading the NCAA East Region in four offensive statistical categories, and held the visitors below their scoring average (93.7), which was ninth in Division II. The Falcons were also second in the region in three-point shooting (41.4%) but were limited to a 27.3 percent showing, going 6-of-22, while being held to a little more than half of their average made threes per game (10.0).
Junior Ryan Richmond led all scorers with 26 points for Bentley, adding four assists, and first-year Colton Lawrence had 12 points and six rebounds. Three Falcons totaled nine points.
Two Lawrence baskets carried a 6-2 run that put Bentley ahead 8-4 by 17:55 of the opening half, but the hosts made it a one-possession game four times by the midway portion of the period, twice apiece on treys by Cheatom and Holmes. Cheatom's three at 9:37 brought the Purple Knights within 21-18, but the Falcon lead slowly grew to double figures at 36-26 when Richmond hit two free throws at 2:51. Richmond's three-point play later finished off what became a 7-2 run, extending the lead to 11, but Cheatom buried two shots in the final minute, producing a 39-32 halftime score.
Richmond scored the final four points in an 8-0 run that began the second half, pushing Bentley in front by a 47-32 count, but an 8-0 Saint Michael's run later made it a 49-44 game with 14:24 remaining, as sophomore Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian) knocked down a jumper before Foster hit back-to-back triples 15 seconds apart. First-year Jason Heter's (Andover, N.J./Newton) lay-in off of a Foster pass at 12:20 maintained the seven-point margin, but the Falcons responded with the next 10 points in a 1:52 span to kick off a 22-6 run during which six players scored. Down 75-52 with 5:38 remaining, the Purple Knights never again trailed by fewer than 17 points.
The Purple Knights head to regionally-ranked Saint Anselm College on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Hawks, who are seventh in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll, won last year's NE10 Championship and qualified for the last five NCAA Tournaments.