Panthers drop LEC contest for second straight loss
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Eastern Connecticut State University opened the second half on a 20-3 run, on the way to an 80-56 win over Plymouth State University in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium.
With the win the Warriors improve to 9-5 overall (3-0 LEC) and move into sole possession of the LEC lead. Plymouth State drops its second-straight game to fall to 11-3 overall (2-1 LEC).
A deep three-pointer from junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) put Plymouth State up 6-2 in the opening minutes of the game. Eastern Connecticut used a 16-6 run to take an 18-12 lead before the Panthers rattled off 10 straight points. A fast break layup from junior Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) tied the game at 18-18, then a steal by senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) led to a pretty ball fake and driving layup by junior Nathan Clarke (Reading, Mass.). Arsenault capped the run with a jumper assisted by Clarke.
Junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) made a tough reverse layup for a 24-20 Panthers' lead with 6:42 left in the opening half. A minute later a long pass from Clarke to sophomore Colin Sullivan (Plymouth, N.H.) set up an easy basket for freshman Mike Osgood (Nashua, N.H.) to give PSU a 28-20 margin, its largest lead of the game.
Sophomore Tarchee Brown (Rockville, Conn.) stopped the run with a three-pointer, sparking a 12-4 run for the Warriors, which tied things back up at 32-32. Preston connected on a pair of layups in the final minutes, but his jumper with two seconds remaining was off the mark and ECSU took a 38-36 lead into halftime. The first half alone featured five ties and six lead changes.
ECSU took control over the first six minutes of the second half. The Warriors came out of the break with some aggressive defense and hot shooting, leading to a 20-3 run. Brown capped the run with a layup to put the guests up 58-39 with 13:52 to play.
Down 60-41, the Panthers tried to claw back. Arsenault connected on a pair of free throw attempts, then a steal by sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) led to an alley-oop dunk from Preston. Nwokeji hit a layup in traffic and a Preston free throw cut the margin to 60-48 at the midpoint of the second half, but the Warrior defense turned it up a notch. A steal and breakaway dunk from Brown put the visitors up 73-52 with five minutes to play and they maintained a 20-point edge the rest of the way.
Preston finished with a game-high 25 points and three blocks. Arsenault added nine points while Nwokeji had four points and six boards. Johnson chipped in with six points and four rebounds.
Brown finished as the high-man for the Warriors scoring 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, to go with five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Junior Hugh Lindo (Enfield, Conn.) added a double-double with 15 points (7-of-10 shooting) and 11 rebounds, while classmate David Canny came off the bench for 13 points and five boards. Senior Trachone Preston (Enfield, Conn.) chipped in with nine points and six boards.
The Panthers shot 61% from the floor in the opening half (14-of-23), but the stifling ECSU defense held them to 20% (6-of-30) from the floor for the second half. The Warriors were 15-of-32 (47%) in the opening frame, but exploded for 17-of-28 (61%) shooting in the game-deciding second half.
Plymouth State will travel to Boston on Wednesday night for another LEC contest. The Panthers will tip-off against the University of Massachusetts Boston at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Connecticut is also on the road for an LEC game Wednesday. The Warriors face the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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