Men’s Basketball: Liss’s go-ahead dunk sends Cadets to thrilling season-opening win over MCLA

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Owen Liss’s (West Suffield, Conn.) game-winning dunk with two seconds left catapulted the Norwich University men’s basketball team to a season-opening victory over Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), 77-76, at Amsler Campus Center Gym on Tuesday evening in non-conference action.

Liss’s game-winner was part of a near-perfect, career-high 23-point showcase, courtesy of a 10-13 clip from the floor.  Kohlby Murray (Fair Haven, Vt.) followed with 16 points and a game-high six assists, while Donovan Lewis Jr. (Savannah, Ga.) and Nabiyu Ndiaye (Barcelona, Spain) added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Trailblazers set the tone early, quickly rallying for an eight-point lead less than five minutes into the contest.  Back-to-back layups from Nick Graves (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) and Ndiaye gave Norwich its first lead of the evening eight minutes later, 20-18, until MCLA reclaimed the edge shortly after, 29-27.  The Cadets would close the first frame on a 10-3 run to enjoy a 37-32 advantage at the break.

The Cadets appeared primed to coast to victory in the second stanza, taking a pair of game-high 13-point leads, with the last coming at the 8:39 mark on a Tom Dooling (Boston, Mass.) layup.  MCLA would close the gap to four on several occasions, including in the closing two minutes until Ndiaye connected with Lewis Jr. on a layup from the graduate student to grant Norwich a 75-69 lead with 1:30 left.

Back-to-back free-throws from Korey Greenland and a personal 5-0 run from Noah Yearsley would give the Trailblazers a 76-75 lead with just 15 seconds left.  On the ensuing Norwich possession, Murray attracted several MCLA defenders on a drive to the basket, allowing a clean cut and pass to Liss, who soared in for the go-ahead, game-winning dunk.

Yearsley and Dylan Morris-Gray led MCLA with 23 points apiece, while Greenland finished with 11 points.  The Cadets shot a blistering 58.2% from the field and maintained a 50-30 advantage in points in the paint.

Norwich will look to continue its hot start to the season, traveling to Northern Vermont University-Johnson for a 6:00 p.m. duel on Thursday, Nov. 10.