KEENE, N.H. - Plymouth State University's men's basketball team overcame a double white out inside and outside Spaulding Gymnasium Tuesday evening, defeating rival Keene State College, 85-75, in a key Little East Conference match-up.
Traveling through a snowstorm to get there and playing in front of a white-out t-shirt clad crowd, PSU won its third straight and improved to 16-8 and 8-5 in the LEC. Keene State fell to 13-11 and 6-7 in the LEC. A loss by UMass-Dartmouth to Rhode Island College enabled the Panthers to move into a tie for third place with UMD in the LEC. It was a tough loss for KSC, which will now be the sixth seed in the LEC tournament and be on the road in the opening-round.
The five Panther starters, all seniors, finished the game in double-figures. Jason O'Keefe (Everett, Mass.) led the way with 25 points followed by Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) with 17, Eric Hondal (Miami, Fla.) and Bryan Tracy (Manchester, N.H./Central) each with 11, and Bill Stowell (Stratham, N.H.) chipped in with 10. Tracy added a team-high eight rebounds.
Sophomore Derek D'Amours (Agawam, Mass.) finished with a game high 26 points leading the Owls. Freshman Anthony Mariano (Naugatuck, Conn.)scored 18 points and freshman Nicco DeMasco (Swanzey, N.H.) added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Owls.
The Owls used a 6-1 spurt at the end of the first half to take a 34-28 lead to the locker room. Hitting five of his seven shots from the field, D'Amours had 13 first half points for the Owls. Both teams struggled behind the arc; KSC was 0-5 while PSU was 1-9.
Three straight corner three-pointers, the last from the right side by D'Amours put the Owls up 43-35 at the 16:26 mark. But the Panthers started chipping away at the KSC lead.
Chergey gave the Panthers its first lead of the second half (51-49) with a basket at the 10:30 mark. A conventional three-point play by O'Keefe extended PSU's lead to eight points (62-56) with 6:42 to play. Later in the half, a driving lay-up and a pair of free throws by Hondal (Miami, Fla.) made it a 10 point game with 2:33 to play.
The two teams split their season series with KSC winning 80-72 in Plymouth back on Jan. 26.
(Courtesy of Keene State Sports Information)