Six Panthers in double figures as win-streak hits five
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University used a 13-0 run over the final three minutes to knock off Castleton University, 88-71, in men's basketball action on Tuesday night. With the win the Panthers, playing their first home game of the season, improved to 5-0, the best start since the 2005-06 team opened the year with seven straight victories.
Junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) and sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) led six Panthers in double figures, each scoring 18 points. Senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) and juniors Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.), Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) and Nick MacGregor (Rochester, N.H.) each added 11 points. Arsenault led the team with nine rebounds and three steals, while Nwokeji grabbed six boards. Boulay, who was able to carve through the Castleton defense all night, handed out a team-high five assists, while junior Nathan Clarke (Reading, Mass.) added four assists and four rebounds.
Castleton (1-2) was led by senior Chad Copeland (Plainfield, Vt.), who posted team-highs of 16 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Pavin Parrish (Rochester, Vt.) added 15 points, while senior Rob Coloutti (Fair Haven, Vt.) chipped in with 11. Classmate Joshua Horton (Argle, N.Y.) was good for nine points off the bench courtesy of 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range.
Plymouth State had a comfortable 75-67 advantage with 4:15 to play, but Copeland cut the deficit to four, 75-71, with an inside bucket with 3:11 left. That would turn out to be the last Spartan points of the night, however, as Nwokeji scored on a pretty feed from Clarke, sparking the 13-0 Panther run to close out the game.
Arsenault opened the scoring in the first half, connecting on consecutive three-pointers, the second coming from deep in the left corner, to give PSU an early 6-2 lead. Over the next four minutes, Boulay caused trouble for the Spartan defense as he was regularly able to get to the basket with dribble penetration. He connected on an inside jumper, followed by a lay-up, then drove and dished to sophomore Kieran Beck (Danvers, Mass.) for an easy bucket. Boulay got the to the rim again on the next possession, missing but grabbing the offensive rebound and setting up Johnson, before connecting on consecutive layups to give PSU an 18-16 edge after seven minutes.
A tough runner in the lane by Preston put the Panthers up 21-20, before Boulay extended the lead with a deep three-pointer from the right wing. Moments later MacGregor caught fire, scoring all 11 of his points in less than four minutes on perfect five-of-five shooting. His layup with 2:09 left in the opening half gave PSU a 43-27 advantage, before Parrish and Coloutti connected from long range for the Spartans to close the half trailing 43-33.
PSU tried to pull away early in the second half, but the Spartans got hot from outside. Parrish, Coloutti and Horton combined to hit four three-pointers in a two minute span to trail 55-47 five minutes into the second half. Castleton finished 10-of-25 from long range (40%).
The Panther lead remained between seven and 10 points until Preston scored on a put-back to push PSU ahead 68-55 with 7:34 to play. Castleton chipped away, cutting the deficit all the way down to four, 75-71, before the Panthers' game-clinching run.
Plymouth State again controlled the boards, out-rebounding the Spartans by a 37-32 margin. PSU has held the edge on the glass in each of its games this year. The Panther defense caused 20 Castleton turnovers which led to 28 PSU points. Plymouth shot an even 50% from the field (33-of-66), while the Spartans finished 28-of 57 (49%).
Plymouth State will enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday before heading back on the road Monday night for a non-conference game at Lesley University (8:00 p.m.). Castleton will look to regroup at home against Southern Vermont College on Sunday (1:00 p.m.).
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