GORHAM, Maine - Senior guard Jason O'Keefe (Everett, Mass.) and senior forward Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) combined to score 31 points and each collected their 1,000th career point Tuesday evening as the Plymouth State University Panthers rallied from a nine-point deficit midway through the second half to earn a 73-69 win over the University of Southern Maine Huskies in a Little East Conference men's basketball game at Hill Gymnasium.
Plymouth State remained hot with its fifth straight victory, improving to 11-5 overall and 4-2 in the Little East. The loss is the seventh straight for the Huskies who fall to 2-14 and 0-6 in the conference.
Chergey (near right) and O'Keefe (far right) each scored their 1000th career points as the Panthers rallied for the win in the second half. O'Keefe finished game with a team-high 16 points, while Chergey tossed in 15 points. Junior Ryan Lambert (Colchester, Vt./Rice Memorial) added 10 points off of the bench. Chergey and O'Keefe become the 23rd and 24th men's basketball players in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
Southern Maine junior Otis Smith (Altamonte Springs, Fla./Ocoee) led all scorers with 17 points on a 6-for-10 effort from the field. Smith also nabbed game-high rebounding honors with seven boards. Junior John Sewall (Bath, Maine/Cheverus) and freshman Alex Kee (Bath, Maine/Morse) each added 14 points.
Southern Maine shot a blazing 65.2 percent (15-for-23) from the field in the opening half and led the Panthers 38-32 at the break. Smith led the Huskies in the first half with 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. The Huskies were up by 12, 44-32, early in the second half and led the Panthers by nine, 57-48, with 11:37 to play.
However, PSU was able to run off 10 unanswered points, taking a narrow 58-57 lead with 9:17 remaining. Chergey started the run with a jump shot and one of two free throws, followed by a pair of lay-ups from junior forward Tom Dowd (Portsmouth, N.H.). Senior Bryan Tracy (Manchester, N.H./Central) capped the run making a lay-up and sinking the free throw after being fouled.
USM countered with five straight points to regain the lead, 62-58, with 7:53 on the clock, but the Panthers used an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 69-64 lead with 3:18 remaining. USM got to within a possession 71-68 in the final two minutes, but PSU never relented its lead for the win.
Southern Maine returns to action on Saturday (3:00 p.m.) at Western Connecticut State University. Plymouth State will look for its sixth straight win Saturday at UMass Dartmouth (3:00 p.m.)
(Courtesy of Southern Maine Sports Information)
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