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PSC falls to UMD in ECAC title game

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Sophomore Steve Patrick (Lynn, Mass.) scored a game-high 16 points Saturday to lead the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to a 67-63 victory over Plymouth State College in the championship game of the ECAC Division III New England Men's Basketball Tournament at the Tripp Athletic Center.

Patrick was selected the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the third-seeded Corsairs, who improved to 21-8 with their first ECAC Championship. He shot 5-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-4 from three-point range, along with collecting three rebounds. Fourth-seeded Plymouth State, which pulled a 94-92 upset Saturday at top-seeded Keene State, fell Sunday in its third appearance in the ECAC championship game.

The Panthers complete a solid campaign at 18-11. Plymouth State led most of the afternoon. The Panthers took an early 11-4 lead and built the advantage to 10 points (30-20) before the Corsairs narrowed the gap to six points at the half (34-29). PSC got the lead back up to eight points (46-38) with 12:39 to play before the Corsairs mounted a comeback. Patrick sparked the Corsairs with five points as UMD cut the Panthers' lead to three (52-49) with less than 10 minutes to play. PSC sophomore Frankie Finklea (Dorchester, Mass.) hit a three-pointer to give the Panthers a 61-56 lead, but UMD followed with an 11-2 run to pull the game out. A lay-up by freshman Chris Lapriore (Grafton, Mass.) with 1:03 on the clock gave the Corsairs a 63-61 lead, their first advantage since the opening minutes of the game. Patrick and Lapriore both hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to account for UMD's final points. In addition to Patrick, Lapriore and junior Brian Cagle (Norwich, Conn.) were the only other Corsairs to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points apiece. Finklea finished with a team-high 15 points, including a pair of dramatic dunks, while junior Donnelle Combs (Mitchellville, Md.) added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.) and sophomore Mike Loughlin (Manchester, N.H.) chipped in with 10 points apiece, and senior Jason Blackburn (Hudson, Mass.) scored eight points and grabbed 10 boards.

Blackburn finishes his career with 1,122 points, 10th on the school's all-time scoring list. "They made the plays down the stretch and we didn't," said PSC head coach John Scheinman. "We had a late practice on Friday, and then had a tough, emotional win Saturday at Keene State before traveling down here. All that took its toll. But I'm very proud of the guys. We played through some injuries, and we went a lot further than people expected us to. I'm proud of the season we had."

(Courtesy UMD Sports Information)