PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Freshman Anthony Mariano (Naugatuck, Conn.) scored a game-high 23 points Tuesday evening to lead Keene State College to an 80-72 victory over rival Plymouth State University in a Little East Conference men's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium.
Mariano made 8-of-15 shots from the floor, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, while collecting four assists and three steals. He helped Keene State win its third in a row and improve to 11-8 overall while PSU dropped its second straight and dipped to 11-7. PSU and KSC are tied for fifth in the Little East with 4-4 marks.
Senior Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) and junior Ryan Lambert (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) led the home team with 17 points apiece, with Lambert also grabbing a team-high nine rebounds. Junior Tom Dowd (Portsmouth, N.H.) chipped in with 11 points and senior Jason O'Keefe (Everett, Mass.) added 10.
Mariano was one of three Owls to score in double figures as freshman Eric Fazio (Hopewell Jct., N.Y.) finished with 15 points and sophomore Cody Snow (Leyden, Mass.) added 12. Plymouth State held sophomore Derek D'Amours (Agawam, Mass.), KSC's top scorer and the LEC's second-leading scorer to eight points, 15 below his average.
Keene State pulled away to a double-digit lead midway through the first half, going up by 12 points with just over 10 minutes on the clock. The Owls still led by 10 with four minutes remaining after a bucket by Mariano, but PSU held the visitors scoreless the rest of the half and tallied 10 unanswered points to forge a 34-all tie at the intermission. Four different Panthers hit hoops in those final four minutes of the half.
The Owls started to pull away again in the second half, going up by nine points with less than 11 minutes on the clock. And again PSU battled back, pulling to within a point twice around the eight-minute mark. But Keene State withstood all Panther rallies, going back up by 10 points (70-60) with four minutes to play. Plymouth State got to within three points in the final minute but Keene State made five straight free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Performance at the free throw line was also a factor in the game as the Owls made 21-of-32 from the stripe while the Panthers were just 8-of-13.
PSU has another tough LEC game on Saturday with a visit to Eastern Connecticut State University for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off. KSC returns home to host Southern Maine in an LEC clash Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
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