- Senior Brice Assie (Bridgeport, Conn.) scored 33 points Saturday afternoon as Western Connecticut State University handed the Plymouth State University men's basketball team its first Little East Conference loss of the season, a 95-92 decision at Foley Gymnasium.
Western Conn., which won LEC Tournament titles in 2002 and 2003 and the ECAC New England championship in 2004, overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to pull out Saturday's win. The Colonials improve to 10-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play, while PSU had its eight-game winning streak stopped and fell to 10-4 overall and 4-1 in the LEC.
Assie, who overcame first-half foul trouble, finished with 33 points and a team-high nine rebounds in just 25 minutes. He hit 12-of-21 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Assie got plenty of help offensively, as seniors Kimani Crawford (West Hartford, Conn.) and Jay Reginatto (Torrington, Conn.) scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, and juniors Greg Cole (Tarrytown, N.Y.) and Jason Barnett (Windsor, Conn.) added 11 points apiece.
The outcome spoiled strong offensive performances by the PSU duo of sophomore Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and senior Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine), who combined for 59 points. Pope hit 10-of-16 field goals to finish with a career-high 30 points, while Pelotte registered 29 points and seven assists. Senior Matt Budrow (Round Pond, Maine) added 16 points, and junior Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) chipped in with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds, as the top four Panther scorers accounted for 85 of the team's 92 points.
It was either team's game in the first half, with nine lead changes and neither squad leading by more than six points. PSU, which led by three at intermission (47-44), maintained the lead for the first 11 minutes of the second half, including a 10-point margin (70-60) with 12 minutes remaining. But Western battled back to tie things up at 73-73 with 8:54 on the clock.
PSU got its lead back up to five points (84-79) with 6:39 remaining, but the Colonials wouldn't quit, taking an 86-85 advantage with 4:16 to play, its first lead since 41-40 late in the first half. It was still tied (91-91) with 2:48 remaining, and PSU got only a Pelotte basket the rest of the way while Western sealed the win on successful free throws down the stretch by Assie and Reginatto.
Both teams face their archrivals in conference match-ups on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., PSU visiting Keene State and WCSU returning home to host Eastern Connecticut.
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