Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's basketball team defeated visiting Lesley University, 97-82, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) battle at Picknelly Arena Thursday night. With the win, the Blazers improve to 2-10 overall, and 2-3 in conference play, while Lesley dips to 3-2 in the NECC and 9-5 on the season.
The sides traded the lead five times over the opening six minutes of play with a jumper from Elms senior Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.) handing the Blazers a 10-7 lead. After buckets from Elms freshman DeAngelo Cousar (Bowie, Md.) and Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.) gave the Blazers a 14-11 lead, the Lynx grabbed control with a 13-2 run over the next six minutes connecting on three straight three-pointers to take a 24-16 advantage. The Blazers roared back down the stretch with a 17-0 run, featuring five points from Ihearahu, to control a 33-24 scoreboard. The Lynx responded with treys from junior Will Gibson (Melbourne, Fla.) and senior Devon Mayo (Newport News, Va.) to cut into the lead and the Blazers took a 36-33 lead into the break.
The Lynx kicked off the second half with consecutive buckets from senior Pierre St. Simon (Farmingdale, N.Y.) to grab a 37-36 lead. The Blazers regained control with a 10-2 run over the next four minutes, behind four points by senior Trifon Bish (St. Catherine, Jamaica) to possess a 46-39 lead. The Lynx whittled the deficit to a single possession, 48-46, but the Blazers orchestrated a 13-4 run, capped by a steal and fast-break dunk from Ihearahu, to rebuild a 61-50 advantage. A layup from Ihearahu at the 6:01 mark gave the Blazers their largest lead of the game, 78-59. Lesley refused to fold down the stretch, going on a 20-9 run over the next four-plus minutes, paced by six-point efforts from Mayo and Gibson, to cut the gap to 87-79 with 1:32 to play. A pair of free throws from Lesley sophomore Xeo Golding (Windermere, Fla.) made it a two-possession game, 87-81, but the Blazers held off the Lynx behind free throws from Ihearahu to secure the 97-82 victory.
"I thought tonight was a great team win for us," said Elms College Head Coach Rob Southall. "Our defense has been getting a lot better, doing a better job of getting out hands on balls, creating deflections and stops. When Lesley started to come back, we remained composed, executed out of the timeout and held them off. [Conny] had an amazing performance, he did all the little things we asked him to do, and we hope he can keep it up against Regis. Regis is a talented team with some bigger players, so we need to come out and make sure we are active and rebound."
Ihearahu powered the Blazers with a career-high 30 points, shooting 11-of-17 from the floor, and matched a program record with 20 rebounds. Smith netted 23 points with four assists and three rebounds, while Cousar posted 17 points. Bish added 16 points and a career-high seven rebounds in the win.
Lesley had five scorers in double figures led by 15-point, four-rebound efforts from Mayo and Gibson. Junior Marquise Johnson (Hampton, Va.) dished out a game-high six assists with 13 points and three rebounds. St. Simon logged 11 points and five rebounds, while sophomore Joey Martin (Melbourne, Fla.) chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.
The Blazers edged the Lynx on the glass, 45-40, and dominated the battle in the paint, 58-28, while the Lynx bench outscored Elms, 24-11. The Blazers connected on 52.9% (37-of-70) from the floor, including 27.3% (6-of-22) from three-point range, and 68% (17-of-25) from the foul line. Lesley shot 41.8% (28-of-67) from the floor, 34.4% (11-of-32) from three-point range, and 55.6% (15-of-27) from the free throw stripe.
The Blazers will look to remain in the win column with a conference road trip to Regis College Saturday afternoon for a 3:00 p.m. tip. Lesley travels to Mitchell College for a conference contest Saturday at 1:00 p.m.