KEENE, N.H. - The top-seeded Keene State College men's basketball team survived a scare from fourth seed Plymouth State College Friday night to post a late come-from-behind 67-62 over the Panthers in a semifinal Little East Conference Tournament game at Spaulding Gym.
Keene State (22-3) advances to the LEC Championship game against Western Connecticut at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Second seed WCSU punched its ticket to the title game with a 84-64 victory over third seed UMass-Dartmouth in the other semifinal contest. It will be the Owls third appearance in the Championship and second in the past two years. PSC, which dropped to 16-10, awaits word on a possible ECAC berth, which will be announced Monday.
The Owls didn't take the lead for good until 18 seconds left to play on two free throws by Dave Stantial. Plymouth State led by as many as nine points in the second half. With 1:32 left, Stantial hit a turnaround jumper to get KSC within three points (62-59), and Derek Swenson drained a trey to tie the game at 62-62 with 57 seconds remaining. Plymouth State would not get another basket the rest of the game. After Stantial hit a couple of free throws to give the Owls a 64-62 lead, PSC's Nick Pelotte missed a chance to tie the game when he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2.1 seconds left on the clock. Stantial led KSC with 21 points while Swenson added 19 points, including seven-for-seven from the free throw line in the second half. Blackburn led Plymouth State in scoring with 17 points and also had nine rebounds. Pelotte finished with 12 points and Frankie Finklea added 10.
Keene State and WCSU (19-6) split their two games during the season with each team winning on its home court. KSC prevailed 87-78 in Keene while the Colonials edged the Owls 90-83 in Danbury, Conn. Western Conn. brings a eight game winning streak into the championship.
(Courtesy Keene State Sports Information)