NEWTON, Mass. – Junior Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) and senior Stefan Masciarelli (Northbridge, Mass.) combined for 55 points Saturday afternoon as Lasell University stunned #7 Nichols College, 96-89, in non-conference men's basketball action at the Lasell Athletic Center.
The Lasers handed the previously undefeated Bison their first loss of the season (6-1) while picking up their first win of the year (1-8). Nichols had defeated Lasell by 15 points a year ago (88-73) on its way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and finishing with a 28-3 overall record.
Nunez matched his career high with 29 points, making 11-of-21 shots from the field, while Masciarelli tossed in 26 points, converting 13-of-20 from the field. Junior Kevin Vanderhorst (Lawrence, Mass.) added 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds and junior Keith Poitier (Hartford, Conn.) chipped in with 13 points after making three three-pointers. Junior Vic Collazo (Clearwater, Fla.) had a strong game off the bench, contributing six rebounds, four assists and seven steals.
Lasell shot a season-high 55.9 percent from the field (38-of-68), including a season-best 50 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-14), for a season-high 96 points.
Junior Matt Morrow (Leicester, Mass.) paced the visitors with 21 points and eight rebounds, converting 9-of-14 shots, while senior Kash Jackson (Canton, Ga.) was good for 20 points off the bench after making six buckets from three-point range. Sophomore Jaekwon Spencer (Bristol, Conn.) posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, junior Nate Tenaglia (Tewksbury, Mass.) added 16 points and seven rebounds, and senior DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.) contributed 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The teams went back and forth in the first half, with 14 lead changes in the first 10 minutes and neither team leading by more than two possessions. Lasell pulled ahead by seven points (43-36) after a pair of Nunez free throws with 4:31 remaining, but Nichols answered with nine consecutive points, capped by a Jackson three-pointer, with put the visitors up 45-43 with three minutes to go. The teams traded hoops and went to the locker room with the Lasers up 52-49.
Poitier hit a three and Masciarelli added a bucket as Lasell opened up the second half with a 57-49 advantage. Nichols answered with a 10-2 run to tie it at 59-all with 15 minutes remaining. There were four leads changes and five tie scores over the next seven minutes before Lasell pulled ahead by seven (81-74) with 6:29 to play after a pair of Nunez baskets and a Poitier three-ball. The Lasers had their largest lead (84-76) after a free throw by junior Dylan Murray (Williston, Fla.) with 5:21 remaining.
The Bison did not go down quietly, rallying with a 10-4 run to pull to within two points (88-86) with a minute to go. A rebound-dunk by Vanderhorst stopped the Nichols rally and pushed the lead back up to four points, and a pair of free throws by Pointer made it a six-point game (92-86). A three-pointer by Jackson cut the Nichols deficit in half (92-89), but a Nunez basket and two free throws by Vanderhorst sealed the win for the Lasers.
Lasell will look to build some momentum next Tuesday, December 10, with a non-conference game at Worcester State University (8:00 p.m.) while Nichols will look to bounce back on Tuesday at Gordon College (7:30 p.m.).
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