CAMBRIDGE, MA – Lesley University improved to 10-10 and 6-6 in New England Collegiate Conference play with an 85-73 win over visiting Southern Vermont College Saturday night in NECC men's basketball play at the Nicholas Athletics Center.
Lynx senior John Sanchez (Carson, CA/Saint John Bosco) scored career point No. 1,000 with a 19-foot jumper from the left wing at the 16:04 mark in the first half. The reigning NECC Player of the Week, Sanchez led the Lynx with 25 points, three steals and a game-high nine assists.
Southern Vermont's Taeshon Johnson (Charlotte, NC/West Meck) did his best to upstage Lesley's second-ever 1,000-point scorer. The junior guard poured in 22 points in the first half and 38 for the game, overmatching individual defenders, finding holes in zone defenses and single handily keeping the Mountaineers in the game until the waning minutes.
Sanchez's milestone basket put Lesley ahead 16-12, and Bryant Itonyo's (Medford,MA/Medford) second trey of the game just outside the 11:00 mark gave the Lynx their biggest lead yet at 21-14. The Mountaineers answered back on a Johnson-led 10-2 run to take their first lead at 24-23.
At 4:47, a Valentine Emebo (Dorchester, MA/O'Bryant) layup Lesley back the lead, 27-26. With just over 3:00 remaining, Matt Gibson (Quincy, MA/Lexington Christian) sank a trey to give Lesley a three point edge over the Mountaineers at 34-31, but Johnson answered back with a jumper to trail by only one.
Mike Kaufman (Boca Raton, FL/American Heritage) went back-to-back with Gibson for two more treys, and Lesley led 42-38 with a minute remaining in the half, but a Johnson layup and free throw made it a 42-41 game at the half.
Gibson led the Lynx with eight points at halftime, and Sanchez, Itonyo and Bennett followed with six a piece, the 6-foot-8 Bennett scoring his six on a trio of dunks. For Southern Vermont, Johnson played all 20 minutes, leading all players with 22 points on 9-13 shooting.
Johnson's 29th and 30th points brought the Mounties to within 55-54 at the 13:00 mark, but back-to-back three-pointers from Kaufman and Justin Rosa (East Brunswick, NJ/Marist High) forced a Michael McDonough timeout with the Lynx back ahead by seven, 61-54. As they did all night, the Mountaineers battled back, as Cory Christiansen (Sharon, CT/Housatonic) found Johnson roaming back door for an alley-oop that forced Lynx coach Donald Morris to take a timeout clinging to a 65-64 lead.
Still lurking, Southern Vermont's Hunter Straton (Bennington, VT/Mt. Anthony) forced the first tie since the opening minutes, knotting the game at 69-69 with a three-pointer with 6:10 to play, but Itonyo's third three-pointer on the ensuing possession immediately put the Lynx back ahead to stay. At the 2:50 mark, his fourth triple extended the lead to 79-69, effectively sending the unruly Mountaineers packing for good.
Itonyo and Bennett scored 10 each, with the latter hauling in a team-high 10 rebounds as Lesley outrebounded Southern 39-31.
Johnson led all players with 13 boards, and Stratton chipped in with 10 points on 2-4 shooting from distance for the Mountaineers (2-18, 2-10 NECC)
With 1,022 points in his three seasons, Sanchez joins former teammate Jesus Trejo as the only members of the 1,000-point club. A 2011 Lesley graduate, Trejo scored 1,246 points as the Lynx all-time leading scorer.
Lesley travels to Regis on Tuesday, when the Mountaineers play host to Daniel Webster.