BABSON PARK, Mass. – Visiting Lasell College built a 17-point second-half lead and then withstood a furious Babson College comeback attempt as the Lasers secured their first win of the season, 75-72, in a non-conference men's basketball contest at Staake Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Junior Brandon Ganesh (Wellington, Fla.) led all player with 30 points in the victory for Lasell (1-2), as he shot 8-for-16 from the field, including a 5-for-8 showing from three-point range, and 9-for-11 from the line. The junior guard also dished out five assists and pulled down six rebounds in the winning effort. Senior Sean Bertanza (Seymour, Conn.) added 18 points, seven boards, and six assists for the Lasers, who shot a sizzling 52.4 percent (11-for-21) from three-point range and 72.7 percent (16-for-22) from the foul line.
Babson (2-1) was led by sophomore John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.), who shot 10-for-16 from the field on his way to a 23-point, seven-rebound performance. Junior Matt Palazini (Franklin, Mass.) chipped in 15 points, junior point guard Kenny Ross (Furlong, Pa.) recorded six points and nine assists, and senior Russell Braithwaite (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added 13 points for the Green and White. Although the Beavers shot 47.4 percent from the field, they hit just 9-of-32 (28.1 percent) from long range and only 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) from the free throw line.
The fast-paced first half saw the two teams combine for 13 three-pointers, including three by Palazini and two apiece by Ross, Ganesh, and Lasell junior Rob Roy (Dover, N.H.). A Bertanza triple followed by a Ganesh lay-up gave Lasell an early 14-8 lead – the first of three six-point advantages that the Lasers would enjoy in the half. The last of those came at 8:11, when a Roy trifecta made it 21-15, but Babson rallied with an 8-1 run to take its first lead of the contest, 23-22, with just under six minutes left in the period.
From there, the teams would exchange the lead five times over the remainder of the half, with Lasell closing the session with an 8-2 run that resulted in a 37-33 lead at the break. Ganesh led all players with 12 points in the first half for the Lasers, who shot 14-for-28 in the first 20 minutes, including a 6-for-12 clip from long range. Meanwhile, Palazini and Wickey scored nine and eight points, respectively, for Babson, which hit 7-of-19 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Lasell continued to expand its lead in the second half of play, culminating with a 7-0 run that gave the visitors a commanding 17-point advantage, 59-42, with 9:30 left to play. Wickey would then embark on a personal 7-0 burst of his own, capped off by a conventional three-point play that pulled Babson back to within 10, 59-49, with 6:32 on the clock.
Babson would cut its deficit to eight on two occasions over the next five minutes, and then get to within seven after a Wickey lay-up with 36 seconds remaining. Two ticks later, Lasell would receive two free throws from senior Arthur Alexander (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) to go back up by nine, setting up a thrilling finish as the Beavers staged a furious rally in the waning seconds.
After Palazini put back a Wickey miss to make it a seven-point game, sophomore Sean McClung (Merrimack, N.H.) recorded a steal and drew a foul, resulting in a pair of free throws that cut Lasell's lead to 74-69 with 17 seconds to go. Following another free throw by Alexander, Palazini drained his fourth three-pointer of the night to make it a one-possession game, 75-72, with six seconds to go, and the junior guard then stole the ensuing inbounds pass deep in the right corner to give his team a chance to tie. However, first-year Travis Sheldon's (Woodstock, N.Y.) desperation three at the buzzer was just off the mark as the Lasers held on for the dramatic three-point victory.