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Panthers upset Keene State in ECAC semifinal

KEENE, N.H. - Freshman Nick Pelotte's (Bingham, Me.) basket with 2.8 seconds left to play gave Plymouth State College a 94-92 upset win over Keene State College in a men's ECAC Division III New England semifinal game played at Spaulding Gym on Saturday.

The fourth-seeded Panthers (18-10) move on to face UMass-Dartmouth- in the All-Little East Conference -tournament championship game on Sunday (2 p.m.) in North Dartmouth, Mass. UMD, the third seed, advanced with its upset of second seed Salve Regina University 88-68 in Saturday's other semifinal match up. It will be PSC's first trip to the title game since losing to Williams College in the 1999 championship.

Keene State, the top seed, concludes its season with a 23-5 record, the most wins ever recorded by the program. Pelotte, who finished with 15 points, scored PSC's last seven points in the game. After Dave Stantial (Beverly, Mass.) hit a pair of free throws to give KSC its last lead (90-89) with 1:58 to go, Pelotte drilled a jumper to put the Panthers on top (91-90) at the 1:38 mark. Following a free throw by Pelotte, Derek Swenson (Attleboro, Mass.), who had a game-high 26 points for KSC, knotted the game at 92-all with two free throws with 20 seconds left on the clock. That set the stage for the winning hoop by Pelotte, who drove the lane and banked the ball in off the glass for the eventual game-winner. KSC had a chance to tie or win it with 2.8 seconds to play, but Brandon Johanson's (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.) inbounds pass was deflected by Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) as time ran out. It was the first win by the Panthers in four meetings between the two teams this season.

Sophomore Frankie Finklea (Dorchester, Mass.) had 22 points and eight rebounds and junior Donnelle Combs (Mitchellevillle, MD) added 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead PSC. Sophomore Mike Loughlin (Manchester, N.H.) added 12 points and junior Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.) chipped in with 11. Chris Timson (Beverly, Mass.) and Johanson both finished with 15 points each for the Owls. Stantial, who was held to 12 points, moved into third on KSC all-time scoring list (1,519 points) with his three-point shot late in the first half.

Plymouth State is seeking its first ever ECAC New England men's basketball championship.

(Courtesy Keene State Sports Information)