PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Keene State College rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit Tuesday evening and pulled out a 58-57 victory over Plymouth State University in Little East Conference men's basketball action at Foley Gymnasium.
The 23rd-ranked Owls maintained their spot atop the Little East standings, improving to 15-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play. PSU was handed its third straight defeat and fell to 8-11 overall and 1-7 in the LEC.
Sophomore Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, Vt.) and junior Nick Drouin (Weare, N.H.) shared team-high scoring honors for KSC with 13 points apiece. Senior Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) led PSU with 13 points, while junior Chris Wilkinson (Newmarket, N.H.) added 12 points and senior Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) chipped in with 11.
The opening 20 minutes was all Panthers, as the hosts led the entire half. PSU scored the first nine points of the game, and held the Owls without a field goal for the first eight minutes. Plymouth State took its first double-digit advantage (25-14) with eight minutes to play, and took a 12-point margin (37-25) into the locker room. Ruocco and Walcek each had 10 points in the opening half for the home team.
PSU extended its lead to 17 points (43-26) with just over 17 minutes remaining, but the Owls would not give in. Keene State, playing without head coach Rob Colbert, who was back in Keene suffering from an illness, whittled away at the deficit. The Owls outscored the Panthers 17-4 over the next 10 minutes to pull to within four points (47-43) with eight minutes to play.
Plymouth State maintained a slight lead until the Owls tied it at 53-all with 2:07 remaining. Keene State led by one (54-53) with 1:45 to play when Ruocco nailed a three from the corner to give PSU back the lead, only to see Kathan answer with a basket at the other end to tie the game at 56-56 with a minute on the clock. Wilkinson made one of two free throws to put the Panthers ahead, but Kathan converted an offensive rebound into what turned out to be the winning basket with 28 seconds remaining.
The Panthers had two attempts for a winning basket in the closing seconds, but both shots hit the rim and fell out.
PSU is back in action Saturday with an LEC clash at Rhode Island College (3:00 p.m.) Keene State plays a non-conference affair Friday at Mitchell College (7:00 p.m.) and a Little East game Saturday at UMass Dartmouth (3:00 p.m.)
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