Bentley cruises past C.W. Post
Leclerc's career-high leads Bentley into NCAA Second Round
WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior guard Sam Leclerc dropped in a career-best 20 points, senior forward Brian Tracey added 17 and sophomore guard Greg Jacques provided 15 points off the bench as Bentley moved on in the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball East Regional with a 74-60 quarterfinal win against C.W. Post Saturday evening at the Dana Center.
Bentley, the number one seed , improved to 23-7 on the year and advanced to Sunday’s 8:30 p.m. ET championship game against the winner of the final quarterfinal, UMass-Lowell against Saint Rose. C.W. Post, champions of the East Coast Conference, finished its season at 21-10.
The Falcons, ranked 22nd in Division II, took a 38-33 lead into the break despite being outshot, 48-41 percent, and outrebounded, 21-15. Bentley countered those numbers by forcing a dozen Pioneer shots while losing the ball only three times itself.
Jacques provided the spark over the final 6:30 of the opening half, scoring eight points as Bentley closed with a 12-4 spurt. He buried a three-ball from the right cover to his team in front to stay at 29-27, and Leclerc followed with a triple from out front to make it 32-27.
After the Pioneers scored the next four to close within one, Tracey drew a charge, Jacques scored on a driving lay-up, and then sank a pair from the line. Following a C.W. Pack basket, graduate guard Mike Quinn closed out the first-half scoring with a putback.
“We knew we’d be fine offensively if we didn’t turn the ball over,” said coach Jay Lawson. “That put it on our defense. We made adjustments at the half to force jump shots rather than lay-ups.”
And that worked, C.W. Post missed 11 of its first 12 shots coming out, the majority of those attempts jumpers and three-point attempts. That enabled Bentley to start the second with a 12-2 burst, resulting in a 15-point lead, 50-35.
Tracey opened the second with an alley-oop dunk set up by Quinn. Following the Pioneers’ only hoop of the opening seven-and-a-half minutes of the second, Bentley continued with eight consecutive. Senior guard Tom Dowling scored off a fast-break lay-up, Leclerc and freshman guard Jasper Grassa both connected from downtown, and Jacques made it 50-35 with a lay-up.
C.W. Post battled back and drew to within six, 60-54, after senior Gilbert Montalvo nailed a three to finish a 10-2 run.
On the Falcons’ ensuing possession, Leclerc was fouled while shooting from outside the arc and he made it hurt, hitting all fhree with 5:05 on the clock. After a defensive stop by the home team, he drove the baseline for a reverse lay-up and a 65-54 Bentley lead with 4:18 left.
Leclerc wasn’t done, adding seven more to his total during a game-ending 9-2 run.
“Sam has been a consistent defender and rebounder for us all year,” said Lawson. “He’s had a month that the ball wasn’t going in for him, but tonight the timing was perfect.”
“I felt good about breaking through at the offensive end,” said Leclerc, who was six of ten overall, three of four from three and perfect on five trips to the line. He also provided five rebounds and two steals while playing 28 turnover-free minutes.
Tracey just missed a double-double, finishing with 17 points, nine boards and three steals. He became the 12th player in the program’s history to reach 1,500 points, just the fourth with both 1500 points and 800 boards, and moved into a tie for 10th on Bentley’s all-time scoring list (1,509).
Jacques tallied his 15 in just 16 minutes as he knocked down five of eight overall and three of four treys. Quinn finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists, and Dowling amassed eight points and five rebounds.
Junior guard Stefan Bonneau, an All-Region honoree (as is Tracey), led C.W. Post with 16 points. He scored 10 of those in the game’s first six minutes, but was contained after that juncture. Freshman forward Vaughn Allen was the other double-figure scorer for the Pioneers, with 16 points.
Field goal percentage (.426) and rebounds (36) were dead-even, but Bentley was much more successful from three (9 of 20 as compared to 3 of 17), took better care of the ball (only nine turns, five fewer than C.W. Post) and made eight more free throws (8-5).
In the first semifinal on Sunday, third-seeded Stonehill will meet number seven Bloomfield, which upset second-seeded American International, 100-96. Stonehill moved on with a 73-64 win against Adelphi.