Late Panther run, Preston's monster game, lead to 6-0 start
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A 9-2 spurt over the final 2:14 of play helped push Plymouth State University past Lesley College, 87-77, in men's basketball action Monday night. Aided by a huge double-double (22 points, 23 rebounds) from junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.), the Panthers earned their sixth straight win to open the season.
Preston was dominant, adding five blocks and four steals to his performance, while senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) continued his hot start with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Nwokeji was again unstoppable in the second half, when he scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) was spectacular on both ends of the floor, finishing with a game-high 26 points (9-of-18 shooting), including 3-of-6 from long range, to go along with his seven rebounds and four steals.
Lesley, which falls to 0-7 on the year, had four players reach double-digits. Junior Devon Mayo (Newport News, Va.) led the Lynx with team-highs of 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Junior Pierre St. Simon (Farmingdale, N.Y.) and freshmen Charlie Reznikoff (Wilton, Conn.) and Xeo Golding (Windermere, Fla.) each added 15 points.
Plymouth State opened up a 10-0 lead over the first 3:24 of play, but the Lynx responded with a 16-4 run to take their first lead with 11:51 left in the opening stanza. Lesley would lead by as many as nine points, 28-19, in the first half but a Preston layup would tie the game at 29-29 with 5:25 left in the period. Lesley followed with seven straight points, but Arsenault and Nwokeji combined for a 7-0 PSU run to retie the game at 36-36 with 2:27 left in the half. A layup from junior Nathan Clarke (Reading, Mass.) gave the Panthers a 41-39 lead, but St. Simon collected an errant Lynx shot and beat the buzzer to knot the score at 41-41 at the break.
Clarke opened the second half with a three-pointer, sparking a 13-4 run and PSU would lead the rest of the way. A pair of free throws from Mayo brought the Lynx within three, 76-73, with 2:59 remaining, but Nwokeji hit from close-range to maintain the PSU advantage. Reznikoff connected for the Lynx, again cutting the deficit to three, 78-75, but once again Nwokeji answered for Plymouth. A steal by Clarke led to a Preston offensive rebound and dunk to put the Panthers in front, 83-75, with 37 seconds remaining, sealing the Plymouth State win. Clarke was solid all-around, finishing with six points, five steals and four assists.
Plymouth State owned the boards for the sixth straight game, out-rebounding Lesley by an impressive 52-30 margin, which included 23 offensive rebounds. The Panthers held a 31-4 advantage in second chance points, and a 50-42 edge on points in the paint. PSU connected on 32-of-74 attempts for the game (43.2%), while the Lynx finished 25-of-54 (46.3%). Although the two teams shot at roughly the same percentage, PSU hoisted up 20 additional attempts.
Both teams will be back in action on Thursday night. The Panthers will look to remain perfect on the year when they host Lyndon State College (7:30 p.m.) in a non-conference match-up, while Lesley will open New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) play at Newbury College (8:00 p.m.).
(With contributions from Lesley College Sports Information)
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