Balanced attack helps Panthers improve to 2-0
CONCORD, N.H. – Junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) led four Panthers in double-figures as Plymouth State University cruised past Rivier University, 79-55, in men's basketball action Tuesday night. PSU (2-0) knocked off the Raiders (0-2) for the third straight year in the nightcap of the Boys & Girls Club Classic at NHTI.
Preston led all scorers with 15 points, while adding five rebounds. Sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) added 13 points and five rebounds, while junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Classmate Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) caught fire in the second half, scoring 13 of his 14 points in a seven minute stretch.
Sophomore Andre Ruff (Chicago, Ill.) was the lone Raider in double-figures, tallying 14 points and six rebounds.
Plymouth State grabbed a quick lead as Preston hit a layup off a feed from Arsenault to open the scoring. Senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) collected an offensive rebound and hit on the put back attempt before Ruff connected from long range to pull Rivier within one, 4-3, after 2:36. That was as close as the Raiders would get, however, as PSU used an 8-0 spurt to take control.
Ruff hit back-to-back layups, followed by a pair of free throws to cut the PSU lead to 17-13, but the Panthers outscored Rivier 15-8 to take a 32-21 lead into the intermission.
The two team's offenses got hot in the second half, combining for 81 points. Rivier hit on 12-of-28 second half attempts (43%), while the Panthers were a sizzling 17-of-30 (57%). Arsenault and Preston combined to score the first seven points of the second half, pushing the PSU lead to 39-21. A layup by junior David Lorden (Pepperell, Mass.) stopped the bleeding momentarily, but Boulay responded with a three-pointer.
Moments later, Johnson scored nine consecutive points for Plymouth State as the Panthers pushed the lead to 51-30. PSU outscored the Raiders 28-25 the rest of the way, including the first career points for freshmen Thomas Olson (Derry, N.H.) and Liam Densmore (Portland, Maine).
Plymouth State owned a 39-26 advantage on the boards, and outscored the Raiders 38-22 in the paint. The Panthers bench, in large part due to Johnson's efforts, outscored the Rivier bench 33-23, while PSU had a 20-2 lead in fastbreak points.
Plymouth State will be on the road at Framingham State on Thursday (6:00 p.m.), before opening Little East Conference play at UMass Dartmouth on Saturday (3:00 p.m.). Rivier will host Pine Manor in the opening game of the Rivier Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night (6:00 p.m.).
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