WALTHAM, Mass. — The Bentley University Falcons, the top-ranked team in the NCAA Division II East Region, will be heading to the University of Bridgeport for an off-conference encounter Friday night. The 7:00 p.m. game can be viewed on the CACC Digital Network (https://caccnetwork.com/ubknights/).
Coach Jay Lawson’s team, No. 18 in this week’s NABC Division II Coaches’ Poll, will head to Harvey Hubbell High School, a building where Bentley has been without a win in his last three visits, with an 8-1 record and a six-game winning streak was.
Bentley leads the East Region in 11 different team categories, including scoring offense (85.4), scoring margin (+16.8), rebound margin (+12.6), field goal percentage (.501), and three-pointers per game (10.3). The Falcons are also number one in both offensive and net scoring.
Defensively, they lead the Northeast-10 in three-point percent defense (.320) and are third in field goal percent defense (.409) and fewest fouls per game.
Bridgeport, 5-5 overall and 2-2 at home, had lost five of six games before winning 76-69 in Queens (NY) last Sunday. Against Northeast-10 opponents, the Purple Knights are 3-1 with wins over Southern New Hampshire, Southern Connecticut and American International and a 15-point loss to Pace.
Bentley earned a 75-72 win over Adelphi University, a game in which the Falcons had the last nine points, including a trio of free throws by a graduate student Brian Wright-Kinsey (Brooklyn, NY/Brooks School) with 0.8 seconds left. He finished with 13 points and set career bests for free throws made and attempts (7-9).
All five Bentley starters average at least 11 points per game with guard Zach Laput (Beacon Falls, Conn./Notre Dame HS), the eastern region’s top scorer with a 21.8 average topping the list. The guard shoots 55 percent overall, 44 percent from outside the arc, and 86 percent from the foul line, while also delivering 7.6 rebounds per game.
Graduate change Matt Leritz (St.Louis, Mo./St.Louis University HS), a former Division III All-America at Illinois Wesleyan, leads the Northeast-10 in rebounds (9.8) and three-point accuracy (.579) and also ranks third in field goal percentage (.598). His scoring average is 13.8 per game.
Rounding out the starting XI is Wright-Kinsey, Graduate Guard Mason Webb (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma/Bishop McGuinness HS) and junior guard Aaron Latham (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury HS). Latham leads the team in steals, Wright-Kinsey has the most blocks, and Webb shoots 95 percent from the charity stripe.
Off the bench, senior to the front Isaac Martin (Atlanta, Georgia/Norcross HS) is sixth in the conference in three-point accuracy at .462. He connected with four of four against Adelphi and finished the season with a best 13 points. Martin scored a career-best 19 points against Bridgeport last year.
Bridgeport, at the helm in Krunch Senadhi’s first season, has fielded nine different players this season and hasn’t had a single player start every game. High school senior transfer Matt Turner, a six-four wing, leads the team with a 14.5 scoring average, and six-six senior Malcolm Moye follows with 11.5. Moye is also a factor on the defensive end with 14 blocks and 10 steals.
As a team, the Purple Knights score just under 80 points per game and give up 78.4. They average 8.3 threes, 9.7 steals, and 3.1 blocks.
The last eight games between the two programs have been won by the home side, which includes Bentley, who are 20-17 behind the all-time series and are hoping for their first win on UB court since December 2010.
Last year’s game was all Bentley, 111-72, thanks in large part to a 55-28 second half. Laput and Jordan Mello-Klein each had 21 goals, Martin had 19 off the bench and the Falcons hit 17 of 35 from three goals.
Bentley will also be in action on Sunday with a 1 p.m. game against Jefferson University.