Preston, Nwokeji lead Panthers in LEC setback
BOSTON, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Boston had four starters finish in double figures, while hitting 7-of-10 from long range, on its way to an 86-62 win over Plymouth State University in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball Saturday.
Sophomore Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) led the Plymouth State (7-16, 2-10 LEC) offense with 14 points (6-of-9 shooting) and four rebounds, while junior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) came off the bench for 13 points and six boards. Junior Dante Ramos (Dartmouth, Mass.) and senior Michael Elliott-Baltimore (North Lauderdale, Fla.) both added eight points, with Ramos adding three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Sophomore Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) contributed seven points (hitting 5-of-6 free throws) and junior Zach Stevens (Londonderry, N.H.) added six points on two-of-three shooting from long range. The PSU bench outscored the Beacons' 45-19.
Senior Luc Ulysse (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the UMass Boston (12-11, 4-8 LEC) offensive outburst, finishing with a game-high 22 points (7-of-9 shooting) and six assists. Junior Omar Benabicha (Saugus, Mass.) added 18 points and connected on all four of his three-point attempts. Senior Carl Joseph (Brockton, Mass.) contributed 13 points (6-of-9 shooting), three rebounds and three assists, and classmate Gregory Young (Dorchester, Mass.) added 12 points (5-of-6 shooting), nine rebounds and six assists. UMB shot 63.5% from the field (33-of-52) and owned a 44-20 advantage in the paint.
Preston had the hot hand early, scoring Plymouth's first six points. His third layup in the opening three minutes gave the Panthers a 6-5 lead. UMB responded with a 14-5 run, including three's from Young and Ulysse, before another Preston jumper pulled the Panthers within seven, 19-12. Benabicha hit his second three-pointer of the half, sparking an 8-1 Beacons run, to go up 27-13 with 6:41 left in the half.
PSU scored five straight, all from the free throw line (three from Arsenault, two from Preston), but UMB followed with three layups during a 6-0 spurt. Preston's inside game kept the Panthers within striking distance, as his layup and turnaround jumper in the lane cut the UMB lead to 35-24 with 1:48 left in the opening frame. Nwokeji hit a layup with just over a minute in the half, but UMB scored the final four points before the break, including a floater from the left elbow by junior Layo Medina (Brockton, Mass.) just before time expired for a 41-26 halftime lead.
Benabicha hit a pair of layups to open the second half and UMass Boston led by at least 17 points the rest of the way. Nwokeji had nine points and four rebounds over 13 minutes in the second half, connecting on 7-of-12 free throws, but the Beacons offense didn't let up, cruising to the 86-62 win.
Plymouth State wraps up the regular season with two home games next week. First up for the Panthers is an LEC battle with in-state rival Keene State College, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. PSU will celebrate Senior Day next Saturday when it hosts Rhode Island College (3:00 p.m.) in the regular season finale. UMass Boston will face the University of Southern Maine Tuesday night (7:30 p.m.) in Gorham.
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