Graduate guard Colton Lawrence exploded for a career-high 34 points, including 23 in the first half, to shoot Bentley University past Saint Anselm College, 89-79, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Bentley, which never trailed after Lawrence buried the second of his five three-pointers to give the Falcons a 9-6 lead with 16:48 left in the opening stanza, improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 NE10. It was the season-opener for Saint Anselm, which had come into the night with an 11-game homecourt winning streak. Both teams were ranked nationally in this week's D2SIDA national media poll, Saint Anselm 12th and Bentley tied for 25th.
The visitors used a 16-3 run to open a 19-9 lead a little more than seven minutes into the contest. The surge included four three-pointers, the two from Lawrence and another two from graduate guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon, Mass./Thayer Academy).
By the time the half was 11 minutes old, Bentley had made 12 of 16 shots overall and the differential stood at 16, 34-18.
Bentley finished the opening half with a 51-39 lead after shooting 60 percent overall and sinking seven of nine from deep. Lawrence's first half included eight of ten overall, four three-pointers in as many attempts and three free throws. Mello-Klein was also a key contributor with 11 points and four steals.
With just under ten minutes left in the second half, Saint Anselm closed to within two and had a couple unsuccessful opportunities to tie or take the lead with a three. A basket by Lawrence and a drive for two by junior guard Kellen Bochenek (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont HS) pushed it back to six, 65-59.
Saint Anselm senior forward Alonzo Jackson (Medford, Mass.) made it a one-point game with a fast-break lay-up with 6:51 to play, but couldn't convert the potential tying free throw.
Bentley responded by scoring 12 of the next 15 points, the final five points from Lawrence, and was back up ten, 79-69, with 4:33 to play.
Coach Jay Lawson's club shot 56 percent overall, connected on 9 of 16 from beyond the arc and sank 12 of 15 free throws. Saint Anselm shot a respectable 49 percent but self-destructed from the charity stripe, misfiring on 13 of 22.
Lawrence finished 13 of 19 overall, including five of six from three-point land. He also had four rebounds in 30 minutes of playing time.
Mello-Klein scored 15 and also had nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. Sophomore guard Zach Laput (Beacon Falls, Conn./Notre Dame HS) was the other Falcon in doubles as he scored 11 and grabbed six boards off the bench.
For Saint Anselm, senior forward Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.) provided 27 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. He did have his shot rejected five times. Bentley finished with eight blocks, including four by graduate forward Pete Blust (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale HS).