PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Tony Martinez (Barnstead, N.H.) and junior Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) combined for 43 points and 17 rebounds Saturday as Plymouth State College's men's basketball team held off Eastern Connecticut State University, 83-69, in the Little East Conference opener for both schools.
Martinez scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the way for the Panthers, while Blackburn added 18 points and eight boards. Sophomore Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.) contributed 11 points, five assists and three steals to the Panther cause.
Senior Ashon Avent (Hartford, Conn.) was a force down low for the Warriors, finishing with 22 points and 17 rebounds and connecting on 10-of-14 field goal tries. Freshman Gordon Shepard (Waterbury, Conn.) chipped in with 16 points, 10 from the free throw line. Junior Rich Vega (Hartford, Conn.), the team's leading scorer at 18 points per game, added 11 points and nine rebounds, but struggled through a 4-for-21 shooting performance.
PSC took a double-figure lead midway through the first half, and held a 41-29 advantage at the break. After PSC extended its lead to 14 points (52-38) with 14 minutes remaining, the Warriors went on a run and cut the lead to four (69-65) with 3:52 to play. But ECSU could get no closer, and the Panthers outscored the visitors 14-4 the rest of the way to clinch the victory.
The win evens PSC's overall record at 2-2, while the Warriors are now 3-2.
Plymouth State returns to action Tuesday (Dec. 5) at the Division III Granite State Challenge, hosted by New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. PSC will face Colby-Sawyer in the opening game at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Keene State - New England College match-up.