PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Ben Huntington (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton) scored a game-high 18 points and Plymouth State University held off a second-half Keene State College rally Tuesday night, defeating the Owls, 71-63, in a Little East Conference men's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium.
Plymouth State took control of the game midway through the first half, led by 15 points at the break, and extended the lead to 20 five minutes into the second half. But Keene State didn't go quietly, staging a huge rally and pulling to within three points, 66-63, with less than a minute remaining.
The Panthers held their ground, though, and junior Eric Hondal (Miami, Fla.) sank five of six free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win for PSU. Plymouth State improves to 7-9 overall while Keene State falls to 8-7. The two teams are now tied for third in the LEC with 4-2 marks.
Junior Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) recorded his first double-double of the season for PSU, and the third of his career, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Classmate Brian Tracy (Manchester, N.H./Central) contributed 12 points and five assists to the cause.
Keene State had four players finish in double figures in scoring. Senior Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, Vt.) led the way with 16 points while classmate Nate Anderson (Westminster, Mass.) added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Anderson was 11-of-11 from the free throw line, helping KSC to a 22-for-25 performance from the stripe. Freshmen Quinton McMillian (Springfield, Mass.) and Derek D'Amours (Agawam, Mass.) chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Owls actually flew out of the gate, scoring the first five points and leading the first five minutes of the contest. PSU answered with a 16-2 run over the next six minutes to assume a nine-point lead, and finished the half with an 11-3 surge to take a 40-25 advantage to the locker room.
PSU pulled ahead 51-31 with 14:38 remaining when the Owls started their comeback. They cut the margin to single digits, 58-49, with six and a half minutes to play, and got the score to within four points, 64-60 with 1:40 on the clock. A three-pointer with 30 seconds to play got the Owls to within three, but Keene State was forced to foul and PSU made its free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory.
Plymouth State won the rebounding department, 44-28, and held the Owls to a 33 percent shooting clip for the game.
The Panthers are back in action with another LEC home game this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. against Eastern Connecticut. Keene State plays a non-conference match-up Thursday at Lasell (7:00 p.m.) before returning home to host Southern Maine on Saturday in a Little East affair (3:00 p.m.)
(Video highlights courtesy of Kevin Gray, N.H. Union Leader)
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