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Wheaton edges PSU Men’s Basketball in tip-off tourney final

(Box Score

            NORTON, Mass. - The Wheaton College men's basketball team captured the 14th Wheaton Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday afternoon, downing Plymouth State University, 66-60 in the championship game in Emerson Gymnasium to win their seventh title.

            Wheaton also defeated the Panthers in the 2007 tip-off tournament final. In the consolation contest, Lyndon State College knocked off Salve Regina University, 85-67.

            Junior Anthony Coppola (Watertown, Mass.) was named tournament MVP for Wheaton after notching 12 points following a 34-point performance on Friday. Sophomore Brendan Degnan (Narragansett, R.I.) earned all-tournament honors after tallying 13 points thanks to a 7-of-10 showing on free-throw tries for the second straight game. Classmate Anthony Weeks (Fitchburg, Mass.) netted 11 points. Wheaton was 26-of-35 at the charity stripe.

            Junior Ryan Lambert (Derry, N.H.) landed on the all-tournament team for Plymouth State, thanks to collecting 10 points and six rebounds off the bench, while junior Tom Dowd (Portsmouth, N.H.) scored 12 points. Senior Jason O'Keefe (Everett, Mass.) tacked on 11, and classmate Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) added 10. The Panthers turned in a 1-of-15 showing on three-pointers.

            Wheaton led 14-8 at the 12-minute mark when Plymouth State put together an 11-3 run, with freshman Justin Hojlo's (Pelham, N.H.) three-pointer at 5:12 giving the visitors a 19-17 lead.  Consecutive baskets by Lambert later snapped a tie and made it 25-21 with 2:40 left. Wheaton scored the final four points to draw within 28-27 at the half. The teams combined to shoot just 4-of-19 from three in the opening half, while Plymouth State held an edge thanks in part to committing only four turnovers.

            The teams exchanged the lead five times during the opening 5:55 of the second stanza, while playing through four ties. Weeks carried the Lyons early, scoring 11 straight points during one 4:08 stretch, capping the run with a three-point play that gave the hosts a 44-41 edge and the lead for good at 12:38. An 11-1 Wheaton run, capped by a pair of Degnan free throws at 3:12, gave the hosts a 61-49 advantage before O'Keefe scored all of his team's points during a 9-1 stretch, making it 62-58 with 11.4 ticks remaining. However, Lyon senior Jaxon Leo (Leesburg, Va.) knocked down four free throws in the final 10.4 seconds to seal the win.

            PSU, 2-1 overall, returns to Plymouth for the home opener on Tuesday at Foley Gymnasium against Castleton State College (7:30 p.m.)
(Courtesy of Wheaton Sports Information) 

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