January 11, 2020 – Medford, Massachusetts
Lesley vs UMass-Boston
Welcome to the edge. Take one step further and you fall down the abyss. This is the farthest reaches of college basketball. The Kuiper Belt. This is a place where most do not think to tread.
This is Lesley University’s men’s basketball facility. This is the gym at Medford High School.
To understand how I found myself walking around a brutalist concrete building in the northern suburbs of Boston on a hot January afternoon we must first understand the unique identity of Lesley.
Lesley University is located in Cambridge and has roughly 7,400 students but only 2,600 undergraduates. Among its academic offerings, there are programs in specific areas such as expressive therapies, counseling, and fine arts. It isn’t a school driven by its athletic teams.
The school is also located four miles from Medford High, and getting through the Boston traffic can make that drive take almost 40 minutes. Add all these variables into the pot together and you get a team that is winless and a program that has two winning seasons in the last 14.
I chatted with the school’s custodian on my way out of the gym and he told me that Lesley paid to put down a full hardwood court to keep in line with NCAA guidelines as MHS had a rubber court. The track surrounding the court is still rubber.
But at least there’s a Lesley logo on the court.
One would think that the best way into a high school would be through the front door. Not today. There was some type of weekend school program so I was told to walk around to the back of the school.
So I did. I walk to the door and went in only to be met by a locked door in the inner vestibule.
Back out I went. It was up a 43-step staircase and through the loading dock before I found a door propped open by a chair and heard the ever-familiar noise of Jordans squeaking on hardwood. I had finally made it.
There was a curtain drawn midway through the gym and a youth league playing on the other side.
About 10 minutes before tipoff a ref walks over to me as I sit courtside at the midline and jokingly asks how I was able to afford these seats. I responded, laughed, stayed for the first few minutes and moved to the top row. I found $2 under the bleachers so at least the expedition netted me a future Fresca.
There were 25 people in the stands at tipoff.
Lesley basketball is not good. The men’s program is winless this season and won nine or fewer games seven times last decade. The Lynx lost their first two games of the season by nine and 11 points, respectively and have lost the ensuing games by an average of 35.5 points.
And this game went to script. UMass-Boston showed why it’s one of the top teams in the Little East this year. The Beacons jumped out early and never let up. A 10-point lead ballooned to 15 and to 20. UMass Boston won 90-64.
Dasan Cinelli finished with 30 points while Malik Lorquet had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying by the Lynx either. Chase Howard had 27 points on 8-13 shooting. Kostas Tatsis had 14 points and 10 boards in 23 minutes off the bench. But being minus-15 on the glass and shooting 19-66 will do in anyone.
Time of game: 1:42