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Keene State too much for Panthers

KEENE, N.H. - Junior Dave Stantial (Beverly, Mass.) had a career-high 36 points and 11 rebounds and senior Chris Coates (Hampton, N.H.) added 28 points and 13 boards Sunday to lead the Keene State College men's basketball team to a 93-89 victory over rival Plymouth State College in a Little East Conference game at Spaulding Gym.

It was the eighth straight win for the Owls, who improved to 14-4 overall and 8-1 in the LEC. PSC snapped a two-game winning streak, dropping back to the .500 mark at 9-9 and 4-4.

The Panthers jumped out to a 15-6 lead before the Owls closed the gap in the first half. Coates gave KSC its first lead (19-17) at the 9:48 mark. While the Owls were plagues by poor three-point shooting, PSC shot 54 percent from the field to build a 44-41 halftime lead. Junior Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) scored 16 points and senior Tony Martinez (Barnstead, N.H.) added 15 first-half point to lead the Panthers.

Both teams traded leads early in the second half before the Owls pulled away. Four free throws by Stantial, who had 26 second-half points, and a three-pointer by Coates gave KSC a 85-74 lead with 3:12 to play.

The Panthers made things interesting down the stretch. After Keene State went up 92-86 with 22 seconds to go, freshman Frankie Finklea (Dorchester, Mass.) hit a three-pointer from the corner to make it 92-89 with nine seconds left. Coates hit the second of two free throws to account for the final score. The Owls hit 19-of-22 foul shots in the second half.

Martinez finished with 32 points and nine rebounds, and Blackburn collected 22 points and nine boards. Finklea added a career high 18 points and five boards.

The Panthers are idle until Saturday (Feb. 3) when they travel to Providence for a Little East matchup at Rhode Island College (3 p.m.).