DANBURY, Conn. - After shooting just 29 percent in the first half, the Western Connecticut State University men's basketball team recovered and shot a blistering 70 percent over the final 20 minutes Saturday afternoon to come from behind and defeat Plymouth State University, 87-77, at Feldman Arena.
The victory gives the Colonials a share of the Little East Conference regular season title with Rhode Island College, which defeated Keene State in overtime, 79-70, Saturday in Providence. Plymouth State dropped its third straight game and finished third in the LEC.
WCSU improved to 20-4 overall and 10-4 in league action, while PSU fell to 17-8 overall and 9-5 in the conference.
Western connected on 22-of-33 shots in the second half against the Panthers, coming back from a six-point halftime deficit (31-25). PSU actually led by as many as 12 points in the opening stanza, 29-17, with three minutes remaining.
The lead changed hands seven times midway through the second half before WestConn took the lead for good with 12:05 remaining. After the Colonials built a six-point advantage (62-56), Plymouth State rattled off eight straight to take a 64-62 lead.
It would take two more deadlocks before Western broke away from PSU's high-powered offense. The Colonials pulled away down the stretch, building a double-digit lead with 1:34 on the clock. PSU got it back down to six, but this day belonged to the Colonials.
Senior Brice Assie (Bridgeport, Conn.) led the hosts with a monster game of 23 points and 18 rebounds, while junior Greg Cole (Tarrytown, N.Y.) added 20 points, all coming after intermission. All five WestConn starters finished in double figures, accounting for 85 of the team's 87 points, as senior Jay Reginatto (Torrington, Conn.) scored 19 points, classmate Kimani Crawford (West Hartford, Conn.) added 13, and senior Jeff Gene (Bridgeport, Conn.) chipped in with 10.
PSU's terrific tandem of senior Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) and sophomore Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) paced the Panther effort, but both ended the game on the bench after fouling out. Pope finished with a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds, his 14th double-double of the season. He hit 10-of-20 from the floor and added a team-high six assists. Pelotte scored 23 points, his 40th straight game scoring in double figures and 19th consecutive with at least 20 points. He also ran his career total to 1,952 points.
The Little East Tournament begins Tuesday with top-seeded Western Conn. hosting eighth seeded Eastern Conn. (7:00 p.m.) and third-seeded Plymouth State hosting sixth-seeded UMass Boston (7:00 p.m.). Other first round games include second-seeded RIC hosting seventh-seeded Southern Maine (7:30 p.m.) and fourth-seeded Keene State hosting fifth-seeded UMass Dartmouth (7:30 p.m.)
(Courtesy of WCSU Sports Information)
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