GORHAM, Maine -- Junior Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) scored 22 points to pace five Plymouth State University players in double figures Tuesday night as the Panthers defeated the upset-minded University of Southern Maine Huskies 84-70 in a Little East Conference game at the Warren G. Hill Gymnasium.
The win improved the Panthers' overall record to 15-3, and they are 6-2 in the conference. Southern Maine dropped its fourth straight game to fall to 6-12 overall and 1-7 in LEC play. The two teams have a return match in Plymouth, N.H., on Feb. 17.
Pelotte gave the Panthers their first lead of the game with 2:40 to play in the first half. The Panthers' defense held USM to just one three-point basket over the final five minutes to help erase a seven-point deficit and take a 45-41 advantage to the locker room.
In the second half, the Panthers dominated the game, quickly pushing the margin into double figures for the first time at 55-45. USM closed the gap to five (57-52), but senior Mike Loughlin (Manchester, N.H.) hit the second of his three second-half three-pointers to swing the momentum. The Panthers closed out the game as Pelotte and Loughlin combined to convert 9-of-12 free throws in the final three minutes.
Pelotte made 7-of-16 shots, including a pair of three-pointers, and 6-of-8 free throws for his 22 points to share game-high scoring honors. He also dished off a game-high seven assists. Loughlin finished the game with 19 points, including making 4-of-6 shots from beyond the three-point arc.
Sophomore Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) added 16 points (7 of 11 from the floor), 13 coming in the first half. Freshman Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) came off the bench to toss in 11 points and junior Anthony Oglesby (Brooklyn, N.Y.) chipped in 10.
Southern Maine was led by junior Jason Levecque (Westbrook, Maine) who scored 22 points to share game-high scoring honors with Pelotte. Junior Mike Francoeur (Somersworth, N.H.) had 16 points while McKinnell recorded his third straight double-double with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Plymouth State made 50.8 percent (31 of 61) of its field goal attempts while holding Southern Maine to 37.3 percent (22 of 59) shooting. The Panthers held a slight 38-35 edge on the boards.
The Huskies travel to Danbury, Conn., on Saturday to take on the Western Connecticut State University Colonials in their next outing. The Panthers will be at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on Saturday.
(Courtesy of Southern Maine Sports Information)