HENNIKER, NH -- Lesley University's John Sanchez scored a game- and season-high 21 points in the Lynx (2-1) 66-53 victory over SUNY-Canton (3-1) in winning the New England College Tip-Off Tournament.
Lesley controlled the first half and eventually the entire contest thanks to its marksmanlike shooting. After the Kangaroos scored the game's first five points, Sanchez (Carson, CA/Saint John Bosco) pulled Lesley back on top with a three-pointer and a three-point play on consecutive possessions, giving Lesley a 6-5 lead at the 17:00 mark. Fellow senior Bryant Itonyo's (Medford, MA/Medford) three-ball reclaimed the lead a minute later at 9-7, and the Lynx led the entire way from that point on.
Senior John Stockton (Middlesex, NJ/Middlesex) joined the act with a trey of his own that upped the lead to 12-7. Ahead 14-12, Sanchez and junior Matt Gibson (Quincy, MA/Lexington Christian) each scored four points in an 11-0 Lynx run that opened the lead up to 25-12 inside the 5:00 mark of the half. Stockton added his second three of the frame and a layup in the final 2:02 that sent the Lynx into the locker room on a 7-2 run leading 35-19.
Lesley controled the boards 14-13 and turned 11 Kangaroos first half giveaways into seven points off turnovers. Sanchez led all scorers with 14 points at the break, while Stockton followed with eight on 2-3 shooting from deep.
After shooting an even 50 percent (11-22) from the floor for the first half, Sanchez, Stockton and the Lynx turned it up yet another notch in the second. The team converted on six of its first seven field goal attempts to start the half, opening up a 48-26 lead on a Sanchez jumper with 14:24 remaining.
A 9-0 Roos run cut the margin to 48-35, but Stockton's third three-pointer snapped Canton's run just outside the 11:00 mark. Lesley shot 5-6 from the floor over a 4:00 span that took the team inside the 2:00 mark with a 20-point lead, 66-46, and the Lynx held on to win comforatbly, 66-53.
Lesley shot a red-hot 56.5 percent from the field (13-23) in the second half, 53.3 for the game and hit on an even 80 percent (12-15) of the team's free throws, all season bests.
For the Kangaroos, Irving Cato led a trio of scorers in double figures with 13 points on 4-9 shooting, adding four boards and a pair of steals.
Led by Stockton's 11 points, Donald Morris' bench outscored previously-undefeated SUNY-Canton's reserves 20-12. Lesley's Kris Bennett (Las Vegas, NV/Durango) led all players with nine rebounds as Lesley outrebounded the Roos, 28-27, leading to a 12-9 advantage in second-chance points. Fellow sophomore forward Valentine Emebo (Dorchester, MA/O'Bryant) chipped in with nine points as Morris' Lynx captured the first in-season tournament championship in program history.
The Lynx return to play 10 days from now, playing host to Tufts University on November 29 at 8:00 p.m.