NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Lasell University and Albertus Magnus College went toe-to-toe for all 40 minutes Thursday night in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball semifinal at the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center, and the host Falcons held on for a dramatic 95-94 victory to earn a spot in their ninth straight GNAC championship game.
In a game that featured nine lead changes, including six in the second half, Albertus rallied from an eight-point deficit with three minutes remaining. The Falcons went on a 14-2 burst in less than two minutes to pull ahead 93-89 with 1:10 to play. Sophomore EJ Day (Norwalk, Conn.) made a pair of free throws for Lasell with a minute remaining to cut the margin to two points, and Terry Dawkins (Bronx, N.Y.) made one freebie for the hosts with 33 seconds on the clock, keeping it a one-possession game.
Lasell freshman Demerrick Warren (Deerfield, Fla.) made a baseline lay-up with 22 seconds remaining to make it a one-point game, 94-93. Lasell fouled Dawkins on the in-bounds play and Dawkins sank one free throw to make it 95-93, giving the Lasers one last chance to tie.
Warren got off a potential game-winning three-pointer with less than a second remaining but was fouled on the play. Warren sunk the first, but a raucous home crowd and two strategic timeouts helped Albertus hold on for the win.
Day finished with a game-high 38 points for Lasell, making 13-of-20 from the field and 5-of-6 from three-point range. Junior Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) added 19 points while Warren scored a season-high 16 points off the bench. Junior Kevin Vanderhorst (Lawrence, Mass.) chipped in with 12 points and classmate Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) scored nine points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds.
Dawkins paced the Falcons with 25 points and 16 rebounds, while Andrew Rice (West Haven, Conn.) poured in 24 points off the bench on 9-of-13 shooting. Tyreek Perkins (Norwalk, Conn.) scored 11 points, but the Lasell defense limited AMC's leading scorer senior Jahmerikah Green-Younger (Norwalk, Conn.) to seven points.
The game got started more than two hours behind schedule, as Lasell arrived late due to a truck accident on a Connecticut highway. The other GNAC semifinal, #4-seed Anna Maria College at top-seeded University of Saint Joseph (Conn.), was postponed until Friday for the same reason, pushing the GNAC championship game back to Sunday, March 1.
Lasell led most of the first 13 minutes of the game before Albertus rallied to pull ahead 35-34 with seven minutes to go in the first half. The Falcons led by six points a couple minutes later before Lasell tied it up at 43-all with two minutes to go, and Dawkins made a late basket to give Albertus a 47-46 lead at the break.
The hosts pulled ahead to an eight-point margin, 57-49, in the first five minutes of the second half, but Lasell would not go down easy and rallied with a 17-9 burst, capped by a Warren three-pointer, to tie the game at 66-all with 10 minutes remaining. Lasell surged ahead with a 17-9 run over the next five minutes to pull ahead 83-75 with four minutes to go, setting up the dramatic ending.
Lasell shot 56.6 percent from the field (30-of-53), including 61.9 percent from three-point land (13-of-21), while holding Albertus to 43.9 percent from the field (36-of-82) and 23.5 percent from beyond the arc (4-of-17).
-- 30 --