November 3, 2009

MBB: CHRIS JOHNSON’S THREE-POINTER STUNS SYRACUSE, 82-79

Covering the Dolphins' victory from The Post Standard
Le Moyne stuns Syracuse; Dolphins players celebrate "best feeling." Donna Ditota/The Post-Standard
Day of the Dolphin: Division II LeMoyne upsets Syracuse in exhibition game Mike Waters / The Post-Standard
It amounted to "only" a 40-minute moment, but it'll last forever for the Le Moyne Dolphins / Bud Poliquin / The Post-Standard

Syracuse, N.Y. - Sophomore guard Chris Johnson (Lindenhurst, N.Y./Lindenhurst) hit a three-pointer from the left wing with nine seconds remaining to lead the Le Moyne College men's basketball team to a stunning 82-79 win over 25th-ranked Syracuse University in an exhibition match-up on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome.

Listen to the final call from Chris & Don on ESPN Radio 1260
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With 30 seconds remaining and Le Moyne leading 78-76, Syracuse grabbed the rebound off a missed lay-up and dribbled up court. Freshman guard Brandon Triche found junior forward Wes Johnson in the corner, where he buried a go-ahead three-pointer with 22 seconds to go. Following an Orange timeout, senior guard Durett Miles (Schenectady, N.Y./Schenectady) lobbed a cross-court pass to Chris Johnson, who drilled his game-high sixth three-pointer to give the Dolphins an 81-79 lead. On the other end of the court, Wes Johnson misfired from the left wing and junior guard Can Ozkaner (Ankara, Turkey/Tilton Prep (N.H.)) grabbed the rebound. Ozkaner connected on one of two free throw attempts to seal the win.

Johnson led the Dolphins with 22 points in shooting 8-of-16 from the field. Preseason All-American Laurence Ekperigin (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Walter Panas) finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive end, four blocked shots, three steals and three assists. Graduate student guard Damani Corbin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Frederick Douglass) totaled 11 points and five assists, while junior forward Kevin Roth (Lake View, N.Y./St. Francis HS) posted 10 points and six rebounds. Wes Johnson led all scorers with 34 points, including 18 in the second half, and pulled down seven rebounds. Andy Rautins and Rick Jackson also finished in double-digits for Syracuse, registering 13 and 10 points, respectively.

After trailing by five points at halftime, the Dolphins fell behind by a game-high 10 points at the 14:21 mark of the second half. Le Moyne responded with a 21-8 run that included three Chris Johnson three-pointers and seven points by Ekperigin. Following a lay-up by Roth to give the Dolphins a 60-57 lead with 7:51 remaining, Wes Johnson converted a conventional three-point play to tie the score for the third and final time.

The Dolphins rattled off five consecutive points and 13 of the game's next 20 points to take a game-high six-point lead. Miles jump-started the streak with a traditional three-point play, while Roth capped it with a lay-up. Wes Johnson made a lay-up and Triche converted a pair of foul shots to pull Syracuse within two. Le Moyne extended its lead back to five on a Corbin free throw and an Ekperigin dunk off an alley-oop from Corbin. Wes Johnson (2), Kris Joseph (1) and Rautins (2) hit five-of-seven free throws around a fast-break lay-up by Roth to set up Wes Johnson's go-ahead three-pointer.

Le Moyne recorded a 36-10 advantage in bench points, led by Johnson (22), Miles (7) and Ozkaner (6). The Dolphins also outscored the Orange in the paint, 42-30, including 18-10 in the opening half.

Le Moyne opens the regular season on Sunday, Nov. 15 at Caldwell at 2:00 p.m.