NORTON, Mass. - Freshman Anthony Coppola (Watertown, Mass.) hit three three-pointers and turned in 17 points during his college debut, leading the Wheaton College men's basketball team past Norwich University, 84-50 in the first round of the Wheaton Tip-Off Tournament on Friday in Emerson Gymnasium.
The Lyons advanced to Saturday's championship game against Plymouth State University, which defeated Fairleigh-Dickinson University at Florham, 88-74 in Friday's first contest. It marked the first career coaching win for PSU interim head coach Jay Harris.
After a 4-4 tie two minutes into the opening game of the tournament, Plymouth State led the remainder of play thanks to 14-of-18 free-throw shooting that helped carry the Panthers to a 44-37 advantage at the intermission. Plymouth State's largest first-half lead of 11 points came with 4:24 to play on a free throw from sophomore Jason O'Keefe (Everett, Mass.), who led all scorers in the frame with 15 points.
A 9-3 Panther run to open the second half separated the teams by 13 points, but a quick 6-0 Devil spurt brought the team to within seven just 58 seconds later. With his team holding to a 53-46 lead, Panther junior Ben Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.) drained four treys during a 2:54 span and pushed Plymouth State to a 67-48 advantage with 12:53 left. The Panthers never again led by fewer than 12.
Huntington finished with a team-high 23 points behind 5-of-8 three-point shooting, while O'Keefe added 22 in 21 minutes and went 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Sophomore Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) added 10 points, while classmate Bryan Tracy (Manchester, N.H./Central) had six assists, eight points and eight rebounds.
Junior Ryan McPherson (West Orange, N.J.) turned in a game-high 27 points for FDU-Florham, thanks to 10-of-12 shooting from the charity stripe. Junior Andrew Biancosino (Edison, N.J.) and freshman Danny Ciprut (Manalapan, N.J.) had 14 points each.
Saturday's consolation game between FDU-Florham and Norwich is slated for a 1:00 p.m. start, while Wheaton will shoot for its sixth tip-off tournament crown in the championship game against the Panthers at 3:00 p.m. The teams met at Plymouth State in last year's Cobblestone Inn Tip-Off Tournament finale, won by the host.
(Courtesy of Wheaton Sports Information)
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