Nwokeji with strong debut for Panthers
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Sophomore Michael Lofton (Mansfield, Mass.) posted a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds Friday evening to lead the Bridgewater State University men's basketball team to a 70-64 victory over visiting Plymouth State University in the opening round of the 2012 BSU Tip-Off Classic at the Tinsley Center.
The game marked the season opener for both teams. Bridgewater will advance to the tournament championship game on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. versus the winner of the Becker College/Springfield College semifinal matchup. Plymouth will play in the consolation game at one.
Lofton added six blocked shots, three steals and a pair of assists for the host Bears. Senior guard Shawn Yard (Brockton, Mass.) chipped in with 13 points and four assists, while freshman Conor Dunleavy (Winchester, Mass.) came off the bench to score 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in his collegiate debut.
Plymouth State was led by freshman forward Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) who notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Kevin Eisenberg (Moultonborough, N.H.) added 12 points off the bench, while junior guard Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) recorded 10 points, six boards and three assists.
Bridgewater held a 34-26 advantage at the intermission and got up by as many as 17 points in the second half. The Bears led 61-46 with under five minutes left to play, but saw that lead shrink to four points as Plymouth used a 14-3 run capped off by a pair of Eisenberg free throws to cut the deficit to 64-60 with 47 seconds remaining. Eisenberg scored seven of his 12 points during the run.
That would be as close as the Panthers would get, however, as the Bears knocked down 6-of-8 free throws, including five from Yard, over the final 40 seconds to secure the win.
Bridgewater shot 41% (20-49) from the floor for the game while Plymouth connected on 39% (26-67) of its field goal attempts. The Bears converted 25 off 33 (76%) free throw attempts, while the Panthers were just 8-for-12 (67%) at the line. Rebounds were even at 37 apiece.
(Courtesy of Bridgewater State Sports Information)
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