Tuesday, February 6, 2007
The Bentley men's basketball team defended with a purpose, shared the ball, and played with confidence.
The script was no different from the first 21 games of the season. The venue -- the Ross Sports Center on the campus of St. Michael's College four hours away in Colchester, Vermont -- was the only new wrinkle.
Seven different Falcons drained 3-pointers. Eight Bentley players scored at least seven points. And the Falcons rolled to their 22nd straight win, sinking St. Michael's 83-59 to secure at least a share of their third straight Northeast-10 Conference regular season title on Tuesday night.
"We had a game plan designed of containing guys who can create off the dribble, and we really executed that," said Bentley coach Jay Lawson, whose Falcons are ranked second nationally in this week's Division 2 poll.
With 22 wins, Bentley broke the NE-10 record for longest winning streak, set by Saint Anselm in 1996 and matched by the Falcons two years ago. It also tied the best start in New England Division II history (Bryant, 1966-67, and Assumption, 1970-71), and gave Bentley's Class of 2007 91 wins during their four years, equaling the most in school history (Class of 1975).
"The team is confident in the right way, not in thinking they are better than everyone," said Lawson. "They have confidence based on the way they've played all season."
Junior forward Nate Fritsch and senior post Jeff Holmes led the balanced Bentley attack, combining for 30 points and 17 rebounds. Fritsch, who had two of his team's 11 three-pointers, finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Holmes followed with 14 points and nine boards. Senior forward Andy Smith (11) and freshman guard Jason Westrol (10) also scored in double figures.
"At the offensive end, we wanted to force the action inside-out, and we accomplished that," said Lawson.
Bentley will be back at home Saturday, taking on Stonehill in a nationally-televised contest (CSTV, 12 noon).
-- Craig Larson