BENNINGTON, Vt. – Lesley University scored a go-ahead basket with 27 seconds left Saturday evening before forcing a costly turnover that allowed the visiting Lynx to take a 65-62 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's basketball victory over reigning NECC Champion Southern Vermont College at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
The win was Lesley's fourth in a row as they continue their best start in program history and improve to 5-1 overall and a perfect 2-0 in NECC action.
The score was knotted at 26-26 following the first half before SVC gained an edge with just a few minutes left to go. Lesley inched back before going in front with a steal-and-score in the final 30 seconds, and a pair of made free throws with four ticks to go forced an unsuccessful desperation three-point attempt from Southern Vermont as the horn sounded.
Next up for the Mountaineers (2-5, 0-2 NECC) is a tough non-conference, inner-state showdown as they host Middlebury College on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Lesley has a short road trip on Tuesday for its next contest, visiting Emerson College for a 7 p.m. non-league matchup.
The victory is the first for Lesley over the Mountaineers since the 2012-13 season and closes Southern Vermont's all-time series lead to 10-7. The two sides will line up once again in the Conference rematch on Saturday, January 28 at the Nicholas Athletics Center.
SVC sophomore Josh Borders (Miami, Fla.) tallied a team-best 21 points while adding six rebounds and two assists, and senior Nate Goldsmith (Capitol Heights, Md.) followed with 20 points and five boards. Junior Daemond Carter (Forestville, Md.) also reached double figures, scoring 10 points while grabbing five rebounds. Senior Davante Jordan (Great Mills, Md.) provided eight boards, four assists and two steals in the effort.
Lesley sophomore Xeo Golding (Windermere, Fla.) was the only Lynx player to record double digits, racking up a game-high 25 points to go with four rebounds in the win. Golding was fantastic in the second half, as we went 6-of-10 from the floor for 17 points in the final 20-minutes. Sophomore Joey Martin (Manchester, N.H.) finished with eight points and three boards as junior Marquise Johnson (Hampton, Va.) registered game-bests of eight rebounds and seven assists. Senior Pierre St. Simon (Farmingdale, N.Y.) also snagged eight rebounds to go with his three points, and three additional visitors scored six points apiece.
Lesley went 24-for-60 (40 percent) from field goal range as the Mountaineers hit 35.2 percent (19-54) of their shots from the floor. Each team connected on seven three-pointers while LU had a 40-38 edge in rebounds. The Lynx had a strong presence in the paint, outscoring SVC 28-18 from inside the key.
A sloppy start to the game saw the two teams combine for 12 turnovers in the opening seven minutes of action. Goldsmith knocked down a three-pointer to put his team on top 10-8, but Lesley sophomore reserve Charlie Reznikoff (Wilton, Conn.) answered with a trey of his own on the ensuing trip down the floor. The downtown buckets continued to get traded as the half progressed, Borders knocking one home on a Carter handoff at the right edge of the arc after Lynx senior Devon Mayo (Newport News, Va.) hit one of his own.
Lesley junior Will Gibson (Melbourne, Fla.) cut into the perimeter before dishing it out to Martin at the right edge of the arc where the Lynx sophomore connected to put his team ahead 24-20. Four free throws helped Southern Vermont notch six unanswered points to pull back in front, Borders dropping three of those from the charity stripe for a 26-24 Mountaineer lead at the 1:50 mark. The only shot to fall in the remaining time of the half was off the hand of Lesley sophomore William Cuffee (Amherst, Mass.), as he hit a jumper with 36-seconds to go to tie the ballgame at 26-26.
The visitors got the ball to start the second half, seeing Golding take a Mayo pass and go up to slam home an impressive dunk for the two-point lead. Carter answered with a personal 7-0 run, capping that with a three off a Jordan dish to put SVC up 33-28. Golding stuffed in another slam before Borders got a floater in the lane to go for the Mountaineers to stake a 36-32 lead. Johnson then made a skip pass across the court to Gibson on the outer edge of the perimeter, and the Lynx junior was able to drop a three-pointer to tie things at 38-38.
Solid ball movement on the next possession allowed Borders to knock down another trey, but Johnson then completed a nice move soon-after when he crossed into the lane from the right side, spotted up and swished home a jumper from the top of the key. Reznikoff completed an old-fashioned three-point play with 8:24 to go, and another Lynx layup then set the score at 49-46 in favor of the visitors. That lead would be short-lived, however, as Borders tallied his fourth triple of the game to tie it once again.
The two squads traded blows through the rest of the matchup as it went down to the wire. Lesley scored four straight to take a 61-60 upper hand, but Borders dropped a jumper with 1:04 left to go to put the Mountaineers back in front. Following a missed layup by Lesley, SVC had a chance to run down the clock and make it a three-point game; instead, Simon made a steal and converted a layup on the other end for a 63-62 LU edge with 27 seconds left.
Southern Vermont opted not to use its final timeout and moved the ball up the court, but Lesley forced another turnover before Golding was fouled with just a few ticks to play. He would hit both free throws while in the double bonus, making it a three-point game with four seconds on the clock. Lesley used a timeout to set up its defense, and the Lynx then caused SVC to toss up a tough look at a game-tying three which fell off the mark for the visitors to celebrate their victory.