PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) scored a game-high 17 points Tuesday evening and Plymouth State University held off a strong second-half rally by the University of Southern Maine to defeat the visiting Huskies, 68-60, in Little East Conference men's basketball action at Foley Gymnasium.
PSU had the advantage most of the first half and the entire second half, leading by as many as 23 points with 15 minutes left in the game. USM would not go easily, outscoring the home team 25-7 over the next 13 minutes to pull to within five points, but the Panthers held on for the win. PSU stops a five-game losing streak and moves to 9-13 overall and 2-9 in conference play, while the Huskies dropped their fourth in a row and dipped to 6-15 overall and 2-9 in the LEC.
Walcek added seven rebounds to his 17 points, while classmate Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) finished with 14 points. Both Walcek and Ruocco shot 50 percent from the floor, Walcek making 5-of-10 and Ruocco 6-of-12. Sophomore Sean Hanlon (Hampstead, N.H.) collected a game-high nine rebounds for the Panthers, helping the home team to a 42-28 advantage on the boards.
Junior Josh Daniels (Everett, Mass.) made 5-of-8 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line to lead the Huskies with 16 points. Junior Drew Coppenrath (Barnet, Vt.) added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds for USM.
Southern Maine led for the first five minutes of the game before PSU took the lead for good (10-8) on a traditional three-point play from Hanlon. The Panther slowly pulled away in the opening half, leading by double digits (24-13) with seven minutes to play and by 17 points (40-23) at the intermission.
PSU opened the second half with a 10-4 spurt to get to its largest lead of the game (50-27). The Huskies came alive; outscoring the Panthers 19-4 over the next seven minutes to get the deficit under 10 points (45-46). USM got within five points three times in the final two minutes, the last coming with 14 seconds remaining, before PSU put the game away by making seven of their final eight free throws.
The outcome also gave PSU coach John Scheinman his 200th career head coaching victory. Scheinman is now 200-121 in 12 seasons at Saint Joseph's College (Maine), New England College and Plymouth State.
PSU plays its final home game of the season this Saturday with a 3:00 p.m. tip-off against UMass Boston. Southern Maine returns home to host Rhode Island College on Saturday in an LEC affair (3:00 p.m.)
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