NEWTON, MA- The Lasell men's basketball team hosted Great Northeast Athletic Conference rivals Mount Ida College on Saturday afternoon. The Lasers picked up the victory 83-75 in overtime to improve to 10-11 overall 9-5 in the GNAC. Mount Ida fell to 7-13 on the year, and 4-9 in conference play.
Lasell had the ball with just under a minute on the clock, and a chance to break the 64-64 tie; however Javon Williams(Mattapan, MA) was called for a charge with 18 seconds to play and his driving layup was waved off. The Mustangs put the ball in the hands of senior point guard Isiah Benjamin(Windsor, CT), who saw his pull-up jumper bounce off the rim as time expired.
Isiah Benjamin led Mount Ida with 27 points today, while recording his 1,000th career point in the contest. Travis Hillery(Tyngsboro, MA) had a double-double for the Mustangs with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Sean Bertanza scored a game high 29 points to lead Lasell, while Williams added 22 points. The duo was joined in double figures by Frank Apisa(Branchburgh, NJ) with 12 points and Arthur Alexander(Port St. Lucie, FL) with 11 points.
In the first minute of overtime, Mount Ida built a four point lead at 68-64, however a pair of Arthur Alexander free throws pulled the Lasers within two. With 3:18 remaining in the extra period a Williams layup tied the game at 68 apiece. Alexander gave the Lasers a one point lead on a free throw with two minutes remaining in overtime, 71-70. An Alexander steal and layup put the Lasers up by three with 1:15 remaining. Mount Ida responded with a Benjamin layup cutting the Lasers lead to 73-72, but Sean Bertanza found a cutting Frank Apisa to put the Lasers back up three with 50 seconds remaining. Alexander then came up with another big steal, and found Apisa running the floor to give the hosts a five point advantage with 30 seconds left. Lasell was able to close the game out at the free throw line, to pull out the 83-75 GNAC win.
The cross town rivals exchanged baskets throughout the first ten minutes with Lasell holding a small advantage most of the initial minutes. Mount Ida took the lead right before the ten minute mark after an Isiah Benjamin trey. At 8:50 Arthur Alexander layup on a fast break tied the game at 18 apiece. As the clock ran down to halftime, the score remained close, with Lasell leading by only one, 26-25.
The first half was even on both ends of the court. Lasell and Mount Ida both shot 33.3% from the field. The top scoring player in the first half was Javon Williams, putting up nine points for the home team. Jeff McNair(Brockton, MA) contributed eight points for the visitors to be their leading first half scorer. Mount Ida had eleven turnovers in the first half while Lasell only had four.
Both teams came out of halftime strong, keeping the score within three early in the half. At the 11:20 mark the Lasers regained the lead at 43-42 after an Alexander layup as the shot clock ran down. With 7:50 remaining the visiting Mustangs took back the lead on a Travis Hillery (Tyngsboro, MA) jumper from just outside the paint.
At the 6:43 mark, Bertanza drilled a three pointer to cut the Mustangs' four point lead to only one at 49-48. After a Keith Jones(Boston, MA) free throw, Williams hit a layup that would tie up the game at 50 apiece. Two Williams free throws later, Lasell had taken a 52-50 lead. Benjamin answered with a trey that gave the visitors a one point advantage at 53-52 and a Bertanza layup put the Lasers back on top 54-53, setting up the frantic finish.
Mount Ida will return home to host Emerson on February 7th, while Lasell will travel to Johnson & Wales University on Tuesday, February 7th for another GNAC contest, with the game set to start at 7:00 p.m.