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WestConn nips PSU in epic double OT thriller to claim LEC Men's Hoop title


- The Western Connecticut State University and Plymouth State University men's basketball teams may be an answer to a sports trivia question after the two teams battled through two overtime periods in the championship game of the 2005 Little East Conference Tournament.

              The Colonials would be the answer when asked which team won the contest, 135-130 in double overtime.  Answering, or even taking a logical guess of Plymouth State senior Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) to question two would get you through to the next round.  Of course the question would be... who scored 62 points and dished out 13 assists and was named LEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Pelotte (right, receiving the Most Outstanding Award from LEC Commissioner Bill Moore) netted the "assumed" LEC Tournament record after shooting 20-of-36 from the floor, 9-of-16 from three-point land and 13-of-17 from the charity stripe in 49 minutes. His point total breaks the Panthers' school record for points in game. The previous mark of 53 was set by Moses Jean-Pierre vs. Southern Maine, January 28, 1993.

The Colonials, 23-4, survived the most thrilling game to ever be played at WestConn's O'Neill Center Saturday afternoon and earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. It will be their 10th trip to the post-season affair. Their last appearance came in 2003 after capturing the LEC crown with a 65-63 victory over the Panthers.

Plymouth State led by as many as nine points, 98-89 with 4:36 left in regulation when Pelotte canned two free throws. Western's senior guard Jay Reginatto (Torrington, Conn.) put his team squarely on his shoulders at the end of regulation, burying two clutch three pointers in the final 1:32. His final long-ranch bucket came with 21 seconds remaining to tie the game at 108-108 after 40 minutes. Reginatto finished with 31 points for the Colonials.


              After the Panthers, 19-9, took a five-point advantage, 120-115, on two freebies from Pelotte with 32 ticks remaining in the first overtime, Colonials' senior sharp shooter Greg Cole (Tarrytown, N.Y.) buried a three pointer with 11 seconds remaining in the first extra frame to knot the game at 120-120.  He first had to track down his own missed three on the right arch before the heroic launch.

              After the game's 11th tie, set up by a Pelotte three, 125-125, WestConn went on a 8-3 run capped off by Kyle Norfleet (Waterbury, Conn.) hitting the front end of a two-shot foul. Plymouth drew within three points, 133-130 on a lay in by, who else, Pelotte with 22 seconds remaining.

              Following their final time out and with Pelotte on the bench with four fouls and an obvious immediate foul situation, Jay Boyle (Woburn, Mass.) stole Jeff Gene's (Bridgeport, Conn.) inbound pass but immediately gave the ball away to Cole.

              Cole raced the length of the court and finished off "his" overtime with a thunderous dunk for a team-high 36th points and what proved to the final.  Pelotte penetrated to the hoop but dished off to Boyle for a three-point attempt at the buzzer that caromed off the back of the rim.

              Senior Brice Assie (Bridgeport, Conn.) finished with 24 points for WestConn.  Jason Barnett (Windsor, Conn.) reached double figures with 10 points and collected a game-high 14 rebounds for the Colonials.  Kimani Crawford (West Hartford, Conn.) and Gene added 13 points apiece to the Colonials highest offensive output since joining the Little East Conference for the 1993-94 season.

              Since that season, WestConn has won gone 22-7 in tournament play and now has won five titles.

              Plymouth State's Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) had 24 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the floor before being forced from the game with an ankle injury with 3:35 left in the first overtime.  Junior Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) added 13 points, and Charles Gaddy (Hartford, Conn.) reached career highs with 13 points and 11 boards.

              The Panthers await their post-season fate.  Seven Pool C bids are up for grabs for the NCAAs' selection committee to pass out on Sunday evening.  If they miss out on the "Big Dance", an ECAC berth will surely follow.  PSU earned a Pool C at-large berth into the NCAA's last season.

  NOTE:  Pelotte's scoring record of 62 points in a LEC Tournament game is assumed because word out of the league's office is that most of the basketball records from the conference were destroyed in a fire a few years back.

  (Courtesy of Western Conn. Sports Information)

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