NEW HAVEN, Conn. (2/25/17) -- The Lasell College men's basketball team had a one-point halftime lead, but top-seeded Albertus Magnus scored 57 second-half points and claimed the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship with a 101-83 win on Saturday inside "The Nest" at Cosgrove Athletic Center.
The Lasers conclude the season with a 19-9 record and their first GNAC title game appearance since 2008, while Albertus Magnus enters the NCAA Tournament at 23-4 overall and on a nine-game winning streak that spanned the entire month of February.
Sophomore Tim Blair (Newington, Conn.) paced the Lasers with 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting and three three-pointers, while three teammates also finished in double figures. Senior John Powell (Ashland, Mass.) posted 15 points, five assists, and a game-high nine rebounds, while junior Derek McMahon (Hatfield, Mass.) scored 14 and added six assists and four steals. Powell and classmate Yordan Villalon (Miami, Fla.) represented Lasell on the All-Tournament Team.
For the seven-time GNAC champion Falcons, senior Grant Ellis (Newark, N.J.) shot 13-of-19 from the field and hit five of his eight three-pointers for a game-high 31 points, while classmate Shaquille Mitchell (Linden, N.J.) scored 29 and junior Jaqhawn Walters (Hartford, Conn.) added 22 points and eight rebounds.
Lasell showed strong en route to taking a 45-44 lead out of the opening half, shooting 19-of-34 from the field and sinking seven threes. The Lasers jumped out to 7-6 and 14-13 leads with McMahon hitting two of his four triples in the first six-plus minutes of play, but a 9-3 run gave Albertus a 25-19 lead after the halfway mark.
Threes from McMahon and Blair brought Lasell back within two at 27-25 with less than nine minutes to play in the half. The teams then played several back-and-forth minutes, before the Lasers went on an 18-7 run and took their largest lead of the day at 43-38 as McMahon knocked down his fourth triple with 75 seconds left.
Blair scored 16 of his points on seven first-half field goals, while McMahon hit all four of his threes and all but two of his points. Although Albertus opened the second half with nine of the first 12 points, Lasell added an immediate 5-0 run to tie the game as Powell laid in two baskets and Blair a free throw.
Albertus used a 14-2 spurt to take a 65-55 lead before the halfway marker and would never look back, although Lasell did close the gap with junior Maurice Hill (Bridgeport, Conn.) scoring six of the game's last ten points, including a three.