Preston, Burt high scorers as Panthers fall to LEC rival
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Keene State College used a late 9-2 run to close out a 66-55 win over Plymouth State University in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball action in front of a packed Foley Gymnasium Tuesday night.
Sophomore Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) again led the Panther offense, scoring a game-high 19 points (8-of-18 shooting). Senior Alex Burt (Dover, N.H.) added 15 points (5-of-9 shooting), while junior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) added nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) added five assists and five rebounds in the losing effort.
Keene State was led by senior Tom Doyle (Wallingford, Conn.), who finished with 18 points (7-of-16 shooting). Sophomore Jeff Lunn (Nashua, N.H.) had a near double-double, scoring 11 points (5-of-6 from the floor) to go with a team-high nine rebounds, while freshman Dizel Wright (Springfield, Mass.) added 11 points. Junior Nate Howard (Cheshire, Conn.) was big inside, scoring seven points while blocking five shots.
Plymouth State jumped out to a 5-0 lead after a Preston layup and Burt three-pointer in the game's first minute. Preston scored the next six points for PSU, all from deep in the paint, and the Panthers led 11-9 after four minutes. Trailing 15-13 at the 10:21 mark, PSU went on a 10-1 over the next four minutes to take a 23-16 lead. Sophomore Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) hit a tough jumper, followed by a floater from freshman Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.), during the Plymouth run.
Keene responded with 12 straight points. A layup by Wright gave the Owls a 24-23 lead, before Lunn scored on a layup and Wright added two free throws. Burt stopped the run with a dribble drive through the KSC defense, finishing at the rim with his left hand just before the buzzer, cutting the Keene lead to 28-25 at intermission.
After a Doyle layup extended the Owls lead to 30-25 to open the second half, a Preston dunk ignited the crowd. The two teams played even until three straight KSC layups pushed the visitors lead to 38-30 with 15:15 to play. The Panthers used a 5-1 spurt, capped off with a Preston layup off a pretty feed from Burt, to close to within four, 43-39, with 11:16 remaining. Burt hit a three from the left corner off an inbounds play to cut the KSC lead to 46-44 with 9:51 left, but the junior Nick Gagliolo (Peabody, Mass.) hit a pair of free throws on the opposite end.
Another Preston dunk pulled the Plymouth to within two, 50-48, before Lunn hit a driving layup for Keene. Preston again cut the deficit to two, 52-50, after a pair of free throws with 6:23 in the game, but that was as close as the Panthers would get. Burt hit a free throw to trail 57-53 with 4:50 remaining, before the Owls closed out the game on a 9-2 run for the 66-55 win.
Plymouth State (7-17, 2-11 LEC) will celebrate Senior Day Saturday when the Panthers play host to Rhode Island College (3:00 p.m.) in the regular season finale. Keene State (17-7, 8-5 LEC) will travel to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for an LEC match-up Saturday.
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