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  • Writer's pictureJack Bienvenue

Men's basketball suffers defeat late in quarter-finals

The men’s basketball team saw their season suddenly end at the Athletic Center Tuesday night, as they suffered a devastating 68-67 loss to The Norwich Cadets. Despite boasting the program’s best record since 2017 and kicking off the second half of the season with a nine-game win streak, the Lasers failed to do any damage in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) playoffs. 

The 4-ranked Lasers had a slow start offensively, as it took them three and a half minutes to get on the board with a three-pointer from first-year guard Andy Madesko. The young teams’ offensive troubles continued, and with only ten points scored coming up on the halfway point of the first frame, Head Coach Aaron Galletta would turn to his second unit for an offensive spark. Junior forward Gabe Qua was a spark off the bench, quickly recording six points to expand the lead to 16-6 and giving the Lasers second chance opportunities. 

Even with the Lasers perimeter defenders shutting down the second-best three-point shooting team conference-wide in Norwich, holding them without a three in the first half, they could not build a comfortable lead heading into the second half. Lasell shot the ball at a 16 percent clip from deep, making it difficult to pull away from Norwich when given the opportunity. The Lasers finished the first half with a 29-20 lead over the Cadets. 

The Lasers huddle together on the court during their playoff game vs Norwich

Photo Credit: Matt Johnson

Despite only hitting two threes in the whole first half, the Lasers didn’t shy away from the three-ball to open up the second half, as they cashed in on two of them in the opening minutes to pull away to a 15-point, 39-24 lead. 

After the teams traded buckets and the Cadets narrowed the lead to 13, Madesko passed up a three, took it hard to the rack, missed the initial shot, but hustled for his own rebound and put it back up to bring the lead back to 15. With a 15-point lead, all the momentum, and only 15:45 on the clock for Norwich to execute their adjustments, it seemed everything would have to go wrong for the Lasers to lose.

Soon after the Lasers found their rhythm, the game would start to take its turn as the Cadet captured theirs. Following Madesko's put back to expand the Lasell lead to 15, Cadets’ senior guard, Jalen Olviero, hit their first three of the night. This shot was more than just three points, as it only took seeing one fall a whole team to get in a rhythm. The Cadets would hit their next five threes over six minutes, cutting the lead to six. 

With the lead only single digits heading into the final five minutes, the Lasers needed one last run to put the game out of reach and punch their ticket to the semi-finals. Needing just a couple more plays on offense, Madesko gave the Lasers just that, going on a quick 4-0 run to open the Lasell lead up to nine with three minutes on the clock. 

First-year guard Che Hanks dribbles the ball across half-court

Photo Credit: Matt Johnson

Following a clutch three-point shot by first-year guard Che Hanks from beyond the arc, extending the Lasers' lead to five, victory seemed imminent. Suddenly, a Lasell turnover at its defensive end of the court set up another scoring chance for the Cadets. While the visitors missed the shot, Madesko was called for a foul during the attempt, giving the Cadets three shots at the free-throw line. After making all three free throws, the Lasers now led by only two points.

The Cadets applied relentless pressure on the ensuing inbound pass and got the needed turnover, trapping Hanks in the corner and forcing his foot to step on the sideline. What seemed like a sure-win for the Lasers was now in significant jeopardy.

Down two points with ten seconds left, Cadets’ guard Kohlby Murray hit a step-back three with two and a half seconds remaining to give Norwich their first lead since 2-0. Cameron Foster-Martez’s half-court heave fell to the hardwood as the buzzer sounded, effectively ending the Lasers’ 2023-24 season.


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