NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Senior Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, Mass.) and junior Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, Mass.) combined for 21 points in a five-minute span of the second half Tuesday evening as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth rallied with a 24-2 run and the fourth-seeded Corsairs defeated fifth-seeded Plymouth State University, 77-67, in the first round of the Little East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Tripp Athletic Center.
Plymouth State led 36-29 at the half and went up by as many as 15 points (53-38) with 12 minutes to go in the second half before Shelton and Stephens caught fire for the Corsairs. Shelton scored 12 points and Stephens added nine, with each hitting two clutch three-pointers, as the Corsairs roared back, going from down 15 to up seven with 5:22 to play. PSU was within four points with four minutes to play, but never recovered and UMD won going away.
The Corsairs, 18-8, advance to the semifinals Friday evening in Providence, R.I., where they will take on top-seeded and LEC regular season champion Rhode Island College at 5:30 p.m. The Panthers, 16-10, are hoping for an ECAC post-season berth but will have to wait until next Monday to learn if they make the tournament.
Senior Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) led the Panthers with 21 points, while Jason O¹Keefe (Everett, Mass.) added 17 points and junior Ryan Lambert (Derry, N.H.) chipped in with 16 points, a team-high seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Stephens led the Corsairs with 20 points, while Shelton finished with 18 points, seven assists and three steals. Lance Greene (Dorchester, Mass.) also contributed 18 points, and senior Tyler Turtoro (Shelton, Conn.) chipped in with 10 points off the bench.
Chergey scored 11 points in the first half and Lambert and senior Bill Stowell (Exeter, N.H.) added eight apiece and PSU built a seven-point halftime lead. Chergey scored eight points in the first eight minutes of the second half and Lambert and O'Keefe added eight more as PSU gained a 15-point advantage prior to the UMD comeback.
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