PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Matt MacKenzie (Warren, Maine) scored a game-high 19 points Wednesday evening as sixth-seeded Husson University upset third-seeded Plymouth State University, 70-62, in the opening round of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Men's Basketball Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
Freshman Philip Leighton (Naples, Maine) added 16 points off the Eagles' bench, and sophomore Joshua Jones (Jefferson, Maine) chipped in with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Husson improves to 16-11 overall, and advances to the ECAC semifinals for the second time in three years. The Eagles will take on second-seeded Elms College (22-6) on Saturday in the second semifinal at 7:00 p.m. at top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University. The championship game is slated for Sunday at Eastern Conn.
Junior Ryan Lambert (Derry, N.H.) led the Panthers, scoring 18 points off the bench and making four three-point field goals. Senior Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) closed out his career with a 16-point effort, and junior Tom Dowd (Portsmouth, N.H.) collected a team-high nine rebounds but finished with just four points. PSU concludes the season with a 16-11 record, a four-win improvement over last year and its first winning campaign since posting the same record in 2005-06.
Plymouth State had an early advantage over the visitors, going up 14-5 eight minutes into the game. Husson came alive with a 12-2 run to take its first lead, 17-16, with eight minutes left in the half. There were three more lead changes before the Panthers took a 28-27 margin into the locker room.
The Eagles maintained the lead in the early-going of the second half, pulling out to a six-point margin, 43-37, with 15 minutes to play. PSU answered with three-pointers by Lambert and senior Eric Hondal (Miami, Fla.) to tie the game at 43-all and it was no more than a two-possession game until the final minute of play. Husson made 6-of-8 free throw attempts in the final 38 seconds to preserve the victory.
Husson shot 67 percent in the second half (14-of-21) to finish with 50 percent shooting clip for the game, while PSU converted just 33 percent for the evening (20-of-60). The Panthers were solid from long range, making 44 percent from three-point land (12-of-27) while Husson made just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc.
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