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PSC holds on to upset Keene State

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State College shot 53 percent from the field Tuesday night and pulled off an 83-79 men's basketball upset victory over Little East Conference-leading Keene State College before a packed house at Foley Gymnasium.

Avenging a defeat at Keene State nine days earlier, Plymouth State led from early in the first half, but needed successful free throws in the closing seconds to hold off the Owls. The win improves PSC's record to 11-9 overall and 6-4 in the LEC, while KSC drops to 15-6 and 9-2.

The three leading scorers on Plymouth State combined for 65 of the team's 83 points, hitting 24 of their 39 shots. Senior Tony Martinez (Barnstead, N.H.) scored 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting, junior Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) added 18 points and 11 rebounds, hitting 8-of-10 field goal attempts, and sophomore Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.) contributed 17 points after connecting on 6-of-10 shot attempts.

The Owls got another outstanding performance from senior Chris Coates (Hampton, N.H.), who finished with a game-high 33 points and 17 rebounds. Sophomore Kyle Purinton (Northwood, N.H.) contributed 14 points and junior David Stantial (Beverly, Mass.) added 13.

Plymouth State took the lead for good with 13 minutes left in the first half, and gained its first double-digit lead (20-10) at the 10:39 mark. The Owls scored the final six points of the half in the last two minutes to make it a six-point game (36-30) at the break.

The Panthers got their advantage back up to double digits several times in the second half, leading by as much as 13 points (56-43) with 11:22 to play and holding on to a 10-point bulge (72-62) with 4:20 remaining. But the Owls would not give in, going on a 16-8 run over the next few minutes to pull to within two (80-78) with a minute left on the clock.

KSC converted one of two free throws with 36 seconds that would have tied the game, and Martinez drained a pair of freebies with 19 seconds left to give PSC a three-point lead. A Coates three-pointer with five seconds left fell short, and Blackburn hit a free throw for PSC to close out the scoring.

PSC is back in action Saturday (Feb. 10) at UMass Boston (3:00 p.m.) while Keene State returns home to host Western Connecticut Saturday (3:00 p.m.)