PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University overcame a four-point deficit in the final 20 seconds of the game Tuesday evening and held on to defeat Tufts University, 64-63, in non-conference men's basketball action at Foley Gymnasium.
Senior Dan Cook (Dover, Mass.) drained a pair of free throws for Tufts with 20 seconds remaining, giving the Jumbos a 63-59 lead. The Panthers cut the margin to one when senior Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) made a three-pointer with 12 seconds on the clock.
After a time-out, senior Bill Stowell (Stratham, N.H./Exeter) stole the inbounds pass for PSU and missed a lay-up, but classmate Eric Hondal (Miami, Fla.) got the rebound and was fouled with five seconds to play. Hondal made both ends of the one-and-one to give PSU the 64-63 lead. The Jumbos had one last chance but a potential game-winning shot was off the mark.
Junior Ryan Lambert (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) led the Panthers, recording a double-double with team-highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Hondal contributed 14 points and six assists, Chergey finished with 13 points and eight boards, and senior Bryan Tracy (Manchester, N.H./Central) chipped in with 10 points.
Senior Dave Beyel (Ocean City, N.J.) led all scorers with 20 points off the Tufts bench, making 8-of-15 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. Classmate Jon Pierce (Belmont, Mass.) added 14 points and freshman Scott Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) contributed 10. Pierce and Anderson shared team-high rebounding honors with eight apiece.
Plymouth State was on top the entire low-scoring first half, leading by as much as nine points (21-12) with four minutes remaining and taking a 24-20 lead into the intermission. PSU held the visitors to only six points in the first 12 minutes before the Jumbos rallied for 14 points in the last eight minutes.
The Panthers started to pull away in the second half, going up by 10 points (43-33) with 13:30 remaining. But Tufts rattled off 12 unanswered points over the next two minutes, including three-pointers by Anderson and Beyel, to take its first lead of the night, 45-43, with 10:30 to play.
PSU answered with eight straight over the next two minutes, including threes from Tracy and Lambert, to regain the advantage. It was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way, with six more lead changes, the final one being the decisive one with five seconds remaining.
PSU, 5-2 overall, plays two more home games this week to wrap up the semester, a non-conference affair Thursday against Lyndon State College (7:30 p.m.) and a Little East Conference match-up Saturday against Eastern Connecticut State University (3:00 p.m.). Tufts, 2-6, is finished for the semester and will return to the court at home on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010, against MIT (8:00 p.m.)
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