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January 20, 2001

Panthers drop LEC contest at ECSU

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Junior guard Jason Leydon (Milford, Conn) scored 17 points -- the second-highest total of his career -- to spark the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to an 85-70 Little East Conference victory over Plymouth State College Saturday.

Leydon, who had finished in double figures only once since scoring a career-high 18 points in the second game of the season, sank seven of 12 field goals and shared team-high scoring honors with junior guard Rich Vega (Hartford, Conn.). Freshman guard Gordon Shepard (Waterbury, Conn.) came off the bench to net 16 points (5-for-7 from the floor) and senior center Ashon Avent (Hartford, Conn.) added 11 points and shared team-high rebounding honors with Leydon, both with six.

Junior center Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) of PSC led all players with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Blackburn nailed nine of 11 field goals and pulled down eight of his team's 22 offensive rebounds. Senior forward Tony Martinez (Barnstead, N.H.), ranked second in the conference with a 21.3 scoring average, followed Blackburn with 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds while sophomore guard Dan Craig (Chelmsford, Mass.) had 10 points (4-for-5 from the floor).

Eastern (8-8, 3-4), which snapped a four-game losing streak, led by four 36-32 at halftime and by eight, 54-46 with 13 minutes left before a 13-2 run over six minutes ballooned the lead to 19, 67-48 with 7:33 left.

Eastern scored the first 11 points of the game but the Panthers (7-8, 2-3), who have lost three straight, battled back with three three-point field goals and 9-of-12 shooting from the free throw line to cut the gap to four by halftime. ECSU pushed its second-half lead to 21 but couldn't put the game away because of poor free throw shooting. The Warriors missed 11 of 26 free throws in the second half, missing six of nine in one stretch in the final two minutes.

Plymouth's 22 offensive rebounds are the most allowed by ECSU this year but the Warriors' 11 turnovers are a season-low. The win allows ECSU to split the regular-season season series. Plymouth had won, 83-69 Dec. 2 at Plymouth, N.H.

PSC returns to action Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in a Little East Conference game at Southern Maine.

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