The Colorado College Tigers did not come 1,700 miles to the Bronx to lose.
The Tigers, ranked 25th nationally among Division III basketball teams, came roaring back to defeat the Lehman College Lightning 82-75 in double overtime on Dec. 28.
The game was part of the seventh Lehman College Coaches vs. Cancer Basketball Classic to benefit cancer research held last weekend.
The Tigers (6-1) outscored Lehman 11-4 in the final overtime led by 6-foot-6-inch junior Chris Lesnansky and 5-foot-9-inch senior point guard Ryan Milne, who combined for 46 points and 21 rebounds.
“It’s good to have a great quarterback out there,” said Tigers coach Andy Partee, referring to Milne’s leadership in overtime.
After shooting an abysmal 26 percent from the field in the first half, the Tigers, looking slow and out of synch, trailed 33-22 at the half.
Lehman, which plays in the City University of New York (CUNY) conference, shot 42 percent from the field in the first half, including making four of eight from three-point land. They were led by 6-foot-6-inch sophomore forward Jerrome Jones, who scored 12 points, and junior forward Kevan Proctor, who dominated the boards and played tough interior defense.
Colorado went to a zone defense to neutralize some of Lehman’s quickness and athleticism.
The Tigers crept back into the game and tied it at 49-49 with 8:25 remaining in regulation time as Justin Berardino hit a three-point shot.
The Tigers shot 44 percent from the field in the second half while holding Lehman to 32 percent shooting.
Lehman’s Jones, who scored a game high 30, took 27 shots, some ill-advised.
The lead fluctuated during the rest of the half as neither team could put the other away.
Both teams had chances to win, but either missed costly free throws or did not execute on offense.
Lehman, which played an all-out physical, attacking and pressing game, was hurt in the end by a lack of bench depth due to injury and foul trouble.
With Lehman up 62-59, Jones rushed a shot rather than running down the shot clock, giving Berardino the opportunity to convert two foul shots with 47 seconds remaining to bring Colorado within one, 62-61.
Lesnansky made one of two foul shots to send the game into overtime.
Lehman came out strong as Jones went to work and had a 70-66 lead in the first overtime as junior Jonathan Greenfield drove the lane and dunked in traffic. Milne made a key steal, dribbled out of trouble, and hit Daniel Webb for a shot to send the game into a second overtime period.
“I thought in the first overtime we had a great chance to win but we just didn’t execute,” said Lehman head coach Steven Schulman. “They are ranked 25th in the country and Lesnansky came out in the second half and willed them to a win.”
Jones led Lehman with 23 points in a victory in the Lightning’s second game of the tournament on Sunday defeating Rutgers-Camden 75-67. The Lightning, who are 7-4, face CUNY rival Brooklyn College on Friday, Jan. 3 in the Bronx at 7 p.m.
Lehman women win one, then lose in tourney
While the men’s games were scheduled ahead of time despite the outcomes, the women played a true tournament format with first game winners advancing to meet in a title game.
The Lehman Lady Lightning, all sporting pink shoelaces, easily dispatched of the State University of New York at Old Westbury Panthers, 104-74.
Lehman, which improved to 9-2, was led by freshman guard Amely Del Rosario, from the John F. Kennedy High School Campus, who scored 26 points in 26 minutes and also had five steals and five assists.
Shalaya Nieves added a double-double with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
But in the final game, Washington and Jefferson College from Pennsylvania defeated the Lady Lightning 89-62. Sophomore forward Amani Lightboure led Lehman with 17 points.
Lehman’s freshman guards Del Rosario and Genesis Liberato were named to the All-Tournament Team.
SUNY Old Westbury fell to Anderson University, from Ohio, 71-60 in the women’s consolation game.
The tournament was made possible with support from the American Cancer Society. Proceeds from ticket sales, concessions, donations and raffle purchases go to help broaden cancer research and awareness.
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