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PSU Men’s Basketball holds off Southern Maine

 PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) and sophomore Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) combined for 45 points Tuesday evening to lead Plymouth State University to an 84-74 victory over the University of Southern Maine in a Little East Conference men's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium.

              The Panthers, who are tied for first place in the LEC, had trouble putting the upset-minded Huskies away.  The visitors held a narrow lead for the majority of the second half, but PSU flexed its muscles down the stretch, outscoring the Huskies 19-6 in the final four minutes to pull out the win.

              PSU, which has won 10 of its last 12 outings, improves to 12-5 overall and 6-2 in conference play, while the Huskies had their three-game win streak stopped and slipped to 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the LEC.  The Panthers have won nine of the last 10 against USM.

              Plymouth State enjoyed the lead the entire first half, leading by as much as eight points (22-14 and 29-21) before settling for a two-point margin (37-35) at the break.  The Huskies started the second half with a 17-9 run to open up their largest lead of the night (52-46) with 14:24 remaining.

              USM maintained the lead over the next 10 minutes, but PSU stayed within striking distance.  The Panthers regained the lead (69-68) with just under four minutes remaining, putting together a 15-4 run and then extending the margin to eight points with one minute to play.  PSU sealed the win by making seven straight free throws in the final 90 seconds.

              Pelotte finished with a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds, while Pope added 22 points, 10 boards and four assists, chalking up his ninth double-double of the season.  Sophomore Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) finished with a career-high 14 points, junior Peter Hutchins (New London, N.H.) added a career-high 13, and junior Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) contributed eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

              The Huskies got a team-high 18 points off the bench from junior Bill Hardwick (Boothbay, Maine).  Senior Mike Francoeur (Somersworth, N.H.) made four three-pointers to finish with 12 points, while freshman Josh Daniels (Seattle, Wash.) also scored 12 points.  Senior Jason Levecque (Westbrook, Maine), who leads USM in scoring with 17.0 points per game, was limited to 10 points.

              PSU shot 50 percent for the game (27-of-54) while holding the Huskies to a 36.1 percent clip.  The hosts had a 42-35 advantage on the glass.  Both teams shot well at the free throw line, PSU making 81.8 percent (27-of-33) and USM connecting on 88.9 percent (16-of-18).

              PSU continues its four-game home stand Saturday with an LEC tilt against UMass Dartmouth (3:00 p.m.), while the Huskies return home to host Western Connecticut on Saturday (3:00 p.m.)

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