WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Little East Conference scoring leaders Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) and Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) combined to score 58 points and shoot 64.3 percent from the floor Saturday afternoon and lift the Plymouth State University men's basketball team to a 96-86 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Pelotte scored nine points over his LEC-best average for the conference-leading Panthers (16-5, 8-2 Little East), finishing with a game-high 34 points to go along with six assists. Pope, tied for second in the conference in scoring (18.4), second in field goal percentage (62.1) and first in rebounding (9.7), had 24 points on 10-for-15 field goal shooting, a game-high 13 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocked shots.
The Panthers also got 13 points and six boards from junior Kevin Boutilier (No. Andover, Mass.)
Eastern Conn. (5-12, 2-7 Little East), which has lost 10 straight to PSU, engineered an amazing reversal by outscoring the Panthers 26-2 over seven minutes to turn an early 15-point deficit into a nine-point lead (34-25) with just under seven minutes left in the first half.
PSU rebounded, however, running off 10 straight points of its own to regain a one-point lead (35-34) with 4:30 left in the first half. The Panthers used another scoring burst (10-1) to build a 14-point margin (64-50) seven minutes into the second half. Eastern got as close as five thereafter, at which time Pelotte nailed one of his five three-point field goals. Pope then grabbed a rebound of an Eastern miss and fed Pelotte to make it 79-69 with just over six minutes left.
Sophomore Leon Martin (Woodbury, Conn.) scored a career-high 20 points - eight more than his previous best - to lead a balanced Eastern attack. Sophomore Geoffrey Richardson (Hartford, Conn.) added 18 points - one shy of his career-high - while senior Mike Bartunek (Durham, Conn.) had a career-high 15 points off the bench with a career-high five three-point field goals. Senior Jeroy Smith (New Haven, Conn.) had his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Matt Albon (Middlebury, Conn.) added 10 points.
The conference leader in scoring (88.0 ppg.) and field goal percentage (50.3), Plymouth State shot 56.6 percent from the floor (60 percent in the second half) and outscored Eastern by 14 from the free-throw line.
Both teams face their archrivals in LEC affairs on Tuesday, as PSU returns home to host Keene State at Foley Gymnasium (7:30 p.m.) while Eastern hosts Western Connecticut (7:30 p.m.)
Courtesy of ECSU Sports Information)
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