Second-half Panther rally falls short
CONCORD, N.H. – Junior Nick Walch (Dedham, Mass.) and senior Garon Whitney (Dover, N.H.) combined for 29 points and 14 rebounds Tuesday evening as the Rivier University men's basketball team pulled out a 53-50 victory over Plymouth State University in the second game of the Boys and Girls Club Classic, hosted by NHTI at the Crocker Center.
The Raiders (4-1) scored 14 straight points over the last three minutes of the first half and the first four minutes out of the locker room, opening up a 13-point margin. PSU (1-3) battled back and finally caught the Raiders with 1:26 remaining on a three-pointer by senior Matt Cloutier (Milton, N.H./Nute), knotting the game at 50-50. Rivier collected a pair of offensive rebounds and made three free throws in the final minute to pull out the win.
Both teams played outstanding defense as PSU held Rivier to 43 percent shooting while the Raiders limited the Panthers to a 35 percent clip.
Walch finished with a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds for Rivier while Whitney collected 14 points and seven boards with the help of three three-pointers. Junior Tom Poitras (Bow, N.H.) added eight points and four blocked shots.
Sophomore Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) led the Panthers with nine points on 50 percent shooting (4-of-8), while senior Kevin Eisenberg (Moultonborough, N.H.) added eight points and senior Stephan Roberts (Kissimmee, Fla.) contributed six points and a team-high eight rebounds off the Panther bench.
There were four lead changes in a tight first half, with each team leading by as much as six points. It was a one-point Panther lead (22-21) with five minutes remaining, but PSU didn't score the rest of the half and Rivier tallied eight points to take a 29-22 lead into the locker room.
It took more than four minutes of the second half before junior Nick Moll (Swampscott, Mass.) hit a bucket for PSU, but the Raiders had already scored six points to open up a 13-point margin, 35-22.
The Panthers cut into the deficit with eight straight points midway through the frame, pulling to within four (42-38) with 7:45 to play. PSU stayed within two possessions the rest of the way, finally tying the game with 1:26 to play. Junior Shawn Gareau (Hardwick, Mass.) made one of two free throws to put Rivier ahead for good, and Brian Troy sank a pair with 13 seconds remaining to clinch the win. PSU had two final attempts for the tie in the closing seconds but both shots were off the mark.
The Panthers, 1-3, will play a non-conference game Thursday at Salem State University, while Rivier returns home to host Johnson & Wales University on Saturday in a North Atlantic Conference affair.
-- 30 --