Second-half Panther rally falls just short
DANBURY, Conn. – After leading by 19 points halftime and by as many as 23 in the second half, the Western Connecticut State University men's basketball team survived a dramatic comeback attempt by Little East Conference rival Plymouth State University to claim a 72-70 victory Saturday afternoon at Feldman Arena.
Leading the Western offense was freshman Kendall Marquez (Willimantic, Conn.) who scored 19 points, while also pulling down six rebounds. Sophomore Phil Starks (Bloomfield, Conn.) scored 13 points and senior Joe Groski (Danbury, Conn.) added 10 for the Colonials. Starks and Groski shared the lead for Western in rebounds with seven each.
For Plymouth State, senior Petey Skevas (Wethersfield, Conn.) led all scorers with 20 points and also led the Panthers on the boards with six rebounds. Also scoring in double figures were freshman Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) with 12 points and junior Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) with 10 points.
A Starks layup with eight minutes left in the first half gave Western its first double-digit lead, 27-17, and three minutes later a Ronnie Underwood (Bridgeport, Connn.) jumper stretched the Colonial margin to 19 points, 39-20. Marquez closed out the first-half scoring with another 3-pointer that gave Western a 45-26 lead going into intermission.
The second half started well for Western as the Colonials held Plymouth State scoreless for more than four minutes, pushing the lead to 49-26. With just under seven minutes remaining, the Western lead was still 20 points after a jumper by junior Tony Seldon (Bloomfield, Conn.) made the score 60-40.
After a Plymouth State time-out, the Panthers began to chip away at the Western lead, score the game's next 14 points to move to within six points at the 2:58 mark. A pair of Marquez free throws gave Western a seven-point lead, 71-64, with only 20 seconds remaining on the clock.
After Skevas convert a traditional 3-point play, freshman Bobby Bynum (New Haven, Conn.) made only one of two free throws on the next possession for Western, allowing Burt's 3-pointer to make the score 72-70 with five seconds remaining. Western then turned the ball over under its own basket on the ensuing inbounds play, giving Plymouth State a chance to take the final shot. When the Panther's attempt bounced off the front of the rim as time expired, Western escaped with a 72-70 victory.
Western improves to 14-6 on the season and 6-4 in the Little East. Plymouth State is now 10-11, 4-6 in the LEC. The Colonials return to action Tuesday when they travel to play Little East rival Rhode Island College. Game time is slated for 7:30pm.
(Courtesy of Western Connecticut Sports Information)
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