NEWTON, Mass. – The Lasell University men's basketball team knocked off conference opponent Johnson & Wales (R.I.) in a hard fought 80-75 win on Tuesday night in the Athletic Center. The victory places the Lasers in a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings with Anna Maria and Emmanuel.
Junior Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) came up big for the Lasers in their close win. Nunez led the Lasers with 25 points including a critical layup with 30 seconds left in the second half to extend their lead to four. Sophomore EJ Day (Norwalk, Conn.) contributed with 24 points on 8-21 shooting from the field, five rebounds, and five assists. Junior Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) also added 14 points while going 6-6 from the free-throw line.
Sophomore Danny Ampofo (New Haven, Conn.) scored 20 points for the Wildcats off the bench and led all scorers for the visitors. Freshman Aireus Raspberry (Cranston, R.I.) added 19 points and five rebounds in the loss.
The Wildcats of Johnson & Wales started the first half strong with a 20-7 lead eight minutes into the half. JWU scored 10 straight points before a Nunez layup ended the run. The Lasers went on their own run to cut the lead to 22-17 after a layup from Friberg.
The Wildcats took their largest lead of the game, 44-27 with just over a minute remaining on a basket from Ampofo. Nunez cut the deficit to 14 with a three at the buzzer heading into the locker rooms.
The Lasers mounted their comeback early in the second half as they chopped the visitors lead to just nine only two minutes into the half. A steal and fast break layup from junior Keith Poitier (Hartford, Conn.) brought the home team the closest they've been since the early going at 44-40.
Out of a timeout, Day hit a three to bring the Lasers within one. Raspberry answered with a quick layup before Nunez drilled a three pointer to tie the game for the first time. A few minutes later another layup from Nunez would give the Lasers their first lead at 61-59.
Down the stretch the home team had a six-point advantage with three minutes remaining after a pair of free-throws. The Wildcats found their way back to within two points after a layup with 50 seconds left in the half. Again, Nunez got to the rim for two and extended the lead before sealing the game with a free-throw with 11 seconds to go.
The Lasers will play their final regular season game against Saint Joseph's (Maine) on Saturday, February 22 which can decide their playoff seeding future.