Panthers drop LEC contest at the buzzer despite Boulay's big night
DARTMOUTH, Mass. – A jumper at the buzzer by junior Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.) gave the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth a dramatic 88-87 overtime victory over Plymouth State University in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball action Saturday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center.
With the Panthers trailing 86-85, senior Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) drove through the lane and dished to sophomore Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.), who hit a tough inside jumper. Preston, who was fouled on the play, missed from the free throw line and UMD secured the rebound.
Rezendes worked his way around a Panther defender but missed a layup with six seconds to go. The loose ball bounced toward the UMD bench, where Plymouth State sophomore Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) chased it down and, falling out of bounds, tossed it back towards the court. The ball ended up in the hands of Rezendes, who buried a jumper from the right elbow just before the final horn sounded.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Panthers, who needed some great defense and a clutch three from Arsenault to avoid falling in regulation. UMD held a five point (76-71) lead with 1:19 left when Panther sophomore Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) came up with a steal, then connected on one-of-two free throws on the other end.
The Panthers full-court trap forced another turnover as Burt came up with a key steal on a cross-court pass, then found junior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) under the hoop for a layup to cut the deficit to two with 1:11 remaining. After a missed three by Rezendes, PSU freshman Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) connected on one-of-two free throws to bring the Panthers within one, 76-75.
Corsair senior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) hit two free throws to give UMD a 78-75 lead with 18 seconds to play in regulation. Johnson misfired from long range for PSU, and it looked like the Corsairs would seal the win as Rezendes stepped to the free throw line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end, though, and the Panthers grabbed the rebound, setting up the Arsenault triple from the right wing to force the extra frame.
PSU got a huge game out of Boulay, who finished with a career-high 20 points on six-of-eight shooting (including two-of-two from long range), in just 22 minutes. Preston also finished with 20 points, while grabbing seven rebounds. Burt added 18 points (7-of-12 shooting), four rebounds, two steals and two assists, and Johnson added 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and two assists. Arsenault chipped in with nine points and four rebounds.
UMD was led by Laga's 21 points and five rebounds. Junior Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) added a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), while Rezendes came off the bench to finish with 12 points. Senior John Genkos (Worcester, Mass.) added 11 points on three-of-five shooting from downtown.
It was a back-and-forth affair all afternoon, with the teams seeing 17 ties and six lead changes. PSU came out firing in the first half, shooting at a 56.5% clip (13-of-23). Boulay finished the opening frame with 17 points (five-of-five from the floor) in only 10 minutes, while Preston had 13 at the break. PSU held a 43-37 halftime lead.
Plymouth State (6-11, 1-6 LEC) travels to LEC and in-state rival Keene State on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. match-up. UMass Dartmouth (9-8, 5-2 LEC) will also be back on the hardwood Tuesday night, hosting Rhode Island College (7:30 p.m.) in a key LEC battle.
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