WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior Mike Parker (Windsor, Conn.) equaled his career scoring high Saturday afternoon with 26 points in the final regular-season game of his career to spark the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to an 87-80 Little East Conference win over Plymouth State University in the regular season finale for both schools at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Both teams will open conference tournament play with first-round games on the road on Tuesday. Eastern (15-10, 7-7 LEC) will be the fifth seed and will visit fourth-seeded Massachusetts Dartmouth, while seventh-seeded Plymouth State will travel to No. 2 seed Keene State College.
Parker scored 20 of his game-high points in the second half, sinking six of nine field goals and eight of nine free throws. Junior Leon Martin (Woodbury, Conn.) scored 11 of his 16 points for Eastern after the break while grabbing a team-high seven rebounds, and junior Kevin Zalucki (Enfield, Conn.) and junior Ivan Pinder (Baltimore, Md.) chipped in with 14 and 10 points off the bench, respectively.
Senior Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) led Plymouth with 22 points, while junior Phil Bourassa (Old Orchard Beach, Maine) finished with 14 points. The Panthers hit 30 of 33 free throws in the game, Eastern 25 of 35.
Eastern had lost its 13th straight game against Plymouth State, 52-51, on a buzzer-beater a month ago at Plymouth, N.H. Before Saturday, Eastern's last win against PSU had come at Geissler Gym, 85-70, late in the 2000-01 season.
PSU dropped both games to Keene State this season, a last-second 58-57 heartbreaker in Plymouth on Jan. 23, and an 88-73 decision last Tuesday in Keene, N.H. Eastern heads into tournament play having won four of its final five regular-season games. The 15 wins are the most for Eastern under fifth-year head coach Bill Geitner.
(Courtesy of Eastern Conn. Sports Information)
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