CHESTNUT HILL, MA -- The Lynx locked up a two-point victory for the second time in three nights on Thursday, holding onto a 12-point lead with under 3:00 to play to beat second-place Wheelock 65-63.
A 12-2 first half run featuring seven points from senior John Sanchez put the Lynx out in front 19-9, and Lesley led for good in spite of nearly squandering a double-digit lead in the final moments. A potential game-winning three-poninter from Wheelock's Kyle Pierce was off-line, and Lesley held on for its third win in four games to get to within a game of .500 at 9-10 (5-6 NECC).
For a fourth straight game, the Lynx hit above 45 percent from three-point range, making a white-hot 7-15 (47 percent) from distance. Senior guard Bryant Intono for a fourth straight game connected on four or more threes, making 4-6 from downtown.
Sanchez, who entered the night needing 26 points to get to 1,000 for his career, rained on Wheelock (10-9, 8-3) forward Eric Rice's 1,000-point parade, scoring 23 points on 6-8 shooting from the floor and 10-12 shooting at the line. Itonyo finished with 13 points and Mike Kaufman added 12 rebounds in the win.
Itonyo's second three-pointer and a Kris Bennett buzzer-beating layup sent the Lynx into halftime with a commanding 36-24 lead. Back-to-back layups for Wheelock's Victor Kashouh capped an 8-0 run that immediately made it a 36-32 game at the 14:35 mark, but Itonyo soon answered with consecutive three-pointers that put the Lynx back on top by 10, 44-34 with 12:40 remaining.
A Matt Gibson jumper extended the lead to 54-41 inside the 5:00 mark, at which point the Lynx looked poised to cruise. A Kashouh three-pointer at the 2:00 mark cut the lead to seven, Kyle Pierce's triple made it a five-point game just over a minute later, and after a pair of Kris Bennett free throws, two straight Rice threes made it a 64-63 game with 14 seconds left.
Sanchez stepped to the line and hit 1-2, but Pierce's last-second three from the right corner missed the mark and Lesley survived.
With 997 points, Sanchez is set to make Lesley history as only the program's second 1,000-point scorer on Saturday night at 8:00 against Southern Vermont.