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Panthers back on track with win vs. RIC

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Tony Martinez (Barnstead, N.H.) scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in his final regular season home game at Foley Gymnasium Thursday night, leading the Plymouth State College men's basketball team to a 78-61 Little East Conference victory over Rhode Island College.

The win moves PSC to 13-10 overall, and pulls the Panthers into a tie for third place in the LEC with Western Connecticut, both at 8-5 in conference play. RIC drops to 7-16 and 3-10.

Martinez and junior Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) both registered double-doubles for the Panthers. Martinez hit 10-of-17 field goal attempts for his 26 points, while Blackburn added 13 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) and 10 boards. The twosome also shared team-high assist honors with five apiece. Freshman Frankie Finklea (Dorchester, Mass.) added 10 points and five rebounds, and a crowd-pleasing dunk late in the second half.

The Anchormen had just two players reach double figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Kenny Jernigan (Hartford, Conn.) tallied 17 points and senior Ken Payette (Woonsocket, R.I.) added 15.

With RIC leading 14-12 midway though the first half, Plymouth State went on a 22-4 run to surge to a 34-18 advantage with a minute and a half left in the opening frame. Jernigan contributed a pair of hoops for RIC to make it a 34-22 game at the intermission.

The two teams traded baskets through most of the second half. RIC got the deficit down to six points (54-48) with just over eight minutes remaining, but PSC scored the next eight points and led by double digits the rest of the way.

PSC finished with a shooting percentage of 50.8, while the Anchormen were good on only 35.8 percent. The Panther also had a 52-26 advantage in rebounds.

The regular season concludes Saturday (Feb. 17) with PSC at first-place UMass Dartmouth (3:00 p.m.) at RIC at Eastern Connecticut (3:00 p.m.). PSC has clinched a home game in the opening round of the LEC Tournament next Tuesday at Foley Gymnasium (7:30 p.m.) against an undetermined opponent.