BOSTON, Mass. – Sophomore Eric Day (Norwalk, Conn.) and junior Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) combined for 50 points Tuesday evening as sixth-seeded Lasell University upset third-seeded Emmanuel College, 98-77, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) quarterfinal game at Andy Yosinoff Court.
The Lasers took control of the game in the first half, surging to a 56-34 lead on 58.8 percent shooting (20-of-34), including 63.2 percent from three-point range (12-of-19). The Saints, meanwhile were limited to 36.7 shooting in the first half (11-of-30), including 14.3 percent (1-of-7) from beyond the arc. Lasell kept the heat on throughout the second half, not allowing Emmanuel closer than 14 points.
The Lasers advance to a GNAC semifinal on Thursday, February 27, at second-seeded Albertus Magnus College after the Falcons pulled out an 82-79 victory over seventh-seeded Suffolk University in Tuesday's quarterfinal.
Day finished with a game-high 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting, including three 3-pointers, while Nunez scored 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 3-of-6 from long range. Junior Kevin Vanderhorst (Lawrence, Mass.) was good for 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and a team-high nine rebounds, classmate Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) added 12 points and six boards, and freshman Demerrick Warren (Deerfield, Fla.) contributed 11 points off the bench.
Junior Zach Crisafulli (Easthampton, Mass.) led the Saints with 21 points and 10 rebounds, converting 7-of-11 from the floor. Senior Emmett Riddick (Middletown, Conn.) scored 19 points, junior Marcus Fox (Danbury, Conn.) added 12 points, and graduate student Dan Flaherty (Warwick, R.I.) chipped in with 10 points off the bench.
Lasell went ahead 11-2 early on after three-pointers by junior Keith Poitier (Hartford, Conn.), Nunez and Day and a Day two-pointer. Emmanuel clawed its way back to within two points, 20-18, but the Lasers responded with a 14-4 burst to pull ahead, 34-22, as Nunez, Warren and Vanderhorst combined to drain four long balls. The Saints were within seven points, 34-27, with 6:30 to play, but Lasell outscored the hosts 22-7 over the rest of the half to hold a 56-34 margin at the break.
The teams traded baskets in the second half as Emmanuel tried to climb back in the game, but Lasell would not relinquish the lead. The Saints were within 16 points at the midway point after a three by Crisafulli and within 14 points two minutes later, but back-to-back baskets by Friberg and a bucket by Day pushed the margin back up to 20 points, 82-62, with five minutes to play, and Emmanuel didn't threaten the rest of the way.
In the semifinals, Lasell will look to avenge a 105-97 regular-season loss at Albertus Magnus on February 12.
It will be the fifth straight season that Lasell and Albertus Magnus have met in the playoffs, with the Falcons winning the previous four. Third-seeded Albertus upset the second-seeded Lasers in 2016 (87-80), in a semifinal at Lasell. The teams met in the championship game in 2017 in New Haven, with the top-seeded Falcons pulling away to a 101-83 victory over the third-seeded Lasers. It was a semifinal clash in 2018 with top-seeded Albertus Magnus taking a 97-86 victory on home court over the fourth-seeded Lasers, and the top-seeded Falcons eliminated eighth-seeded Lasell last season, 99-79.
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