Panthers rally to force OT; Skevas scores 20 to lead Green & White
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Juniors Nicholas Grassa (Lynn, Mass.) and Hamed Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) combined to score 45 points Thursday evening as Salem State University outlasted Plymouth State University in overtime, 80-75, in non-conference men's basketball action at Foley Gymnasium.
The Panthers trailed by 10 points (63-53) with five minutes remaining in regulation before tightening up on both ends of the court. PSU (6-3) outscored the visitors 11-1 in those five minutes to send the game into an extra session, deadlocked at 64-all. Senior Petey Skevas (Wethersfield, Conn.) scored five points in the rally and classmate Nick Moll (Swampscott, Mass.) added a pair of buckets, and junior Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) hit the tying basket with 29 seconds on the clock.
Salem State (5-4) went for the winning basket as the clock wound down but a shot by Grassa bounced off the rim.
Freshman Logan Kesty (New Boston, N.H.) made four straight free throws for PSU early in overtime to put the Panthers up by two, but the Vikings responded with 11 unanswered points to take a 77-68 advantage with 43 seconds to play. Grassa and junior Jon Perez (Weymouth, Mass.) each hit shots from beyond the arc and Akanni converted a traditional three-point play to key the rally.
Grassa finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-8 from three-point range, while Akanni contributed 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting while collecting a team-high eight rebounds. Senior Andrew White (Medford, Mass.) chipped in with 13 points and seven boards.
Skevas led the Panthers with a season-high 20 points and five assists, shooting 50 percent from the field (6-of-12). Kesty contributed 12 points off the bench, freshman Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H./Phillips Exeter) added 11 points and senior Mark MacGregor (Rochester, N.H.) was good for nine points and eight rebounds.
PSU had its largest lead of the first half at 20-13 at the midway point, only to see the Vikings go on a 16-2 run to take a seven-point margin of their own. Salem State went to the locker room with a six-point lead, 35-29.
The Vikings maintained the advantage most of the second half, leading by as many as 11 points (48-37) and holding a 10-point margin with five minutes to go before PSU came back to force OT.
The Panthers are now idle for final exams and the holidays, returning to action on Tuesday, Dec. 31, vs. Colby College and former PSU head coach Damien Strahorn, now the Colby head coach.
Salem State wraps up the semester Saturday at home against the University of Southern Maine.
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