LYNDONVILLE, Vt. - Junior guard Ben Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.) scored a game-high 17 points and Plymouth State University held off a late rally Tuesday night to earn a nail-biting 54-53 win over the University of Southern Maine in Little East Conference men's basketball action at Warren Hill Gymnasium in Gorham.
Plymouth State won its third straight and fourth out of the last five, improving to 8-16 overall and 4-9 in the Little East. Southern Maine evens out to 12-12 overall with its second straight loss and falls to 7-6 in the conference.
Huntington canned four of seven three-pointers to lead two players in double figures for the Panthers. Sophomore Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) added 14 points on an outstanding 6-for-7 effort from the field, while sophomore Bryan Tracy (Manchester, N.H./Central) added nine points.
Senior Jamaal Caterina (Portland, Maine) paced Southern Maine with 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, recording his ninth double-double of the season. Senior forward Drew Coppenrath (Barnet, Vt.) was the only other USM player in double figures with 12 points and eight rebounds.
On a tough shooting night for both teams, both the Huskies and the Panthers traded runs in the second half setting up a neck-and-neck race for the win. Trailing by five (31-26) with 15:30 to play, PSU rallied to take the lead with 13 unanswered points over a four minute span. The Panthers connected on a trio of three-pointers in the run, including long-range strikes from Phil Bourassa (Old Orchard Beach, Maine), Huntington and Tracy.
Southern Maine countered with a run of its own, outscoring the Panthers 11-2 in a three-minute span to knot the score up at 42-42 with 8:06 remaining. The teams exchanged baskets over the next seven minutes and the Huskies' pulled to within a point of Plymouth State four times during that stretch but was unable to score a go-ahead basket.
Southern Maine sophomore guard Greg Whitaker (Presque Isle, Maine) sank a pair of free throws with 49 seconds remaining in the game to make the score 54-53 in the favor of the Panthers. After the free throws, the Huskies played solid defense and Plymouth State was unable to beat the shot clock on its next possession. Southern Maine regained possession with 10 seconds remaining but failed to get off a shot before time expired.
Southern Maine concludes its regular season on Saturday (February 22) when it travels to Western Connecticut State for a 3 p.m. contest. Plymouth State travels to UMass Dartmouth on the same date and time.
(Courtesy of Southern Maine Sports Information)
-- 30 --