DANBURY, Conn. - Plymouth State College ran off 14 unanswered points midway through the first half Friday night and never looked back, running away from Keene State College, 82-76, in the semifinals of the Little East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at Western Connecticut State University's Feldman Arena.
The victory advances second-seeded PSC (21-6) into the championship game Saturday at 3:00 p.m. against host and top-seeded WCSU. The Colonials disposed of fourth-seeded UMass Dartmouth in Friday's second semifinal, 77-74. Third-seeded Keene State, which had won eight of its last nine, drops to 20-7. KSC defeated PSC in last year's semifinal, 67-62.
PSC has never won the LEC men's basketball championship. The Panthers are making their first appearance in the title game since 1999, when they lost at home to Western Conn., 92-60.
The 14-point spurt in the first half Friday gave PSC a 26-13 advantage with seven minutes remaining. Keene State stopped the bleeding, but trailed by 11 points (39-28) at the break.
The Panthers maintained a double-digit lead most of the second half, shooting 54 percent from the field after the intermission. PSC led by 17 points (66-49) with 10 minutes to play and by 12 (72-60) with four minutes left. The Owls got the margin down to four points in the final minute and three points (79-76) with 20 second remaining, but PSC held them off by making seven of their eight free throws in the final 40 seconds.
Sophomore Anthony Oglesby (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the Panthers with 24 points and 12 rebounds, hitting 8-of-13 shots from the field. Senior Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.) contributed 15 points and five assists, and junior Mike Loughlin (Manchester, N.H.) and sophomore Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) added 11 points apiece. Stewart and Loughlin each hit three three-pointers for PSC.
Keene State had a balanced scoring attack, with four players in double figures. Junior Bennett Pawlusiak (Bedford, N.H.) came off the bench to hit four three-points and finish with a team-high 16 points. Senior Derek Swenson (Attleboro, Mass.) scored 15 points, freshman Sean Sullivan (Athol, Mass.) added 12 off the bench, and junior Alphonse Michalski (Northampton, Mass.) chipped in with 11 points.
(Courtesy WCSU Sports Information)