CAMBRIDGE, MA – A John Sanchez jumper with three seconds remaining broke a 67-67 tie in giving Lesley University a 69-67 win over visiting Plymouth State Tuesday night in non-conference men's basketball play at the Nicholas Athletics Center.
A day after being named New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Player of the Week, Sanchez (Carson, CA/Saint John Bosco) kept rolling, this time penetrating to his right in draining a 15-footer from the block-extended for the win. He finished with 16 points on 9-10 shooting at the charity stripe to go with a game-high nine assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.
Lesley's Bryant Itonyo (Medford, MA/Medford) led all scorers with 22 points on 6-9 shooting from three-point range, including 4-5 shooting from deep in the first as Lesley (8-10) opened up a sizable early lead.
Sophomore guard Petey Skevas (Weathersfield, CT/Weathersfield) led the Panthers with 19 points, 11 of which came as Plymouth State (6-12) chipped away at the Lynx 39-29 halftime lead. Kyle Walker (Brooklyn, NY/Brooklyn College Academy) added 17 in 22 minutes off the bench in the loss.
A Kris Bennett (Las Vegas, NV/Durango) dunk and Itonyo's first three-pointer pushed the Lynx to a 12-2 lead in the opening minutes, and another Itoyno triple started a 10-0 run that was capped by a Matt Gibson (Quincy, MA/Lexington Christian) trey, jolting the Lynx ahead 22-4 with 13:00 yet to play in the first.
The Panthers then got hot from long-range, with Walker, Skevas and Brian Chergey (Bow, NH/Bow) all landing three-point baskets in a 14-2 Plymouth run. Itonyo, who enjoyed his second straight game with five or more threes, landed two long three-pointers to squash the Panthers run and make it a 32-20 game, and the Lynx went into halftime with a 39-29 lead.
A pair of Plymouth layups in a span of 15 seconds out of the break immediately made it a six-point game again, and the Panthers kept their deficit to a dozen or less for the entire half. Trailing by 10 just outside the 14:00 mark, Skevas layups bookended an 8-0 run to pull within two at 48-46, but a pair of Lynx free throws preceded another Itonyo bomb that provided some breathing room, if only temporarily.
A Chergey jumper followed by a rare Itonyo miss led to a Walker runner from the right block that brought the Panthers to within 63-61 at the 3:00 mark. On the Lynx next possession, Justin Rosa was stripped by Jesse Sabolis (Stoughton, MA/Stoughton-New Hampton) with 2:40 to play, and Skevas streaked in on a fast break to tie the game for the first time since the opening tip.
An Itonyo mid-range pull-up put the Lynx back on top at the 1:15 mark, but 58 seconds later, Walker was fouled underneath and hit a pair at the line to re-tie the contest.
Out of a Donald Morris timeout, a reinserted Gibson handed to Sanchez just inside halfcourt, the Lynx 5-8 senior captain put an array of moves on Walker from the right wing, penetrated to his right and calmly sank the game-winner.
A Skevas desperation heave from 60 feet missed high and to the left, and with that, the Lynx won for a second time in three contests as Itonyo, Sanchez and the Lynx cut the Panthers ill-fated comeback attempt short.
Plymouth State outrebounded the Lynx by one, 27-26, but turned 16 Lesley giveaways to a 19-6 advantage in points off turnovers, allowing for the visitors to erase a 12-point second half deficit in tying but never taking a lead.
Bennett added seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds. As a team, the Lynx shot 47 percent (9-19) from downtown.
Lesley travels to Wheelock on Thursday night, when Plymouth State plays host to Johnson State.