Panthers sharp shooting leads to LEC win
BOSTON, Mass. – Junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to lead Plymouth State University to a 70-59 win over the University of Massachusetts Boston in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball Wednesday night.
With the win the Panthers improve to 12-3 (3-1 LEC) and snap a two-game skid. UMass Boston drops to 5-9 overall (1-3 LEC) while losing its fourth straight.
Sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) teamed up with junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) and senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) to help the Panthers build a 20-point first half lead. Preston had a pair of interior baskets around a three-pointer from Boulay to give the visitors a quick 7-2 advantage. PSU continued to add to the lead, using a 22-7 run to take a 29-9 lead with 7:30 left in the opening half. The dynamic trio combined for 18 of the 22 points in the stretch.
Junior Dan Powers (Westwood, Mass.) hit two three-pointers and sophomore Maurice Magras (Medford, Mass.) scored seven points during a 12-4 Beacons run to cut the margin to 33-21 with 2:30 left in the half. Arsenault connected from the free throw line for an old fashioned three-point play, then Powers hit again from long-range before Arsenault added two more from the charity stripe to give the Panthers a comfortable 38-24 halftime lead.
UMass Boston opened the second half with a 7-2 spurt to cut the PSU lead to single digits, 40-31. After a free throw from Nwokeji, Arsenault hit a tough runner in the lane to push the lead to 12 points, 43-31. The Beacons followed with another burst, 8-2 this time, including the fourth triple of the night for Powers, to bring the hosts within six points (45-39), but the Panthers responded with a 10-2 run of their own, highlighted by five points from junior Nick MacGregor (Rochester, N.H.). Magras connected from downtown for the hosts to cut the deficit to 55-44 midway through the second half, but that was as close as the Beacons would get.
Preston, Boulay and Nwokeji all finished in double figures, behind Arsenault's team-high 18 points. Preston added 14 points (6-of-11) and four rebounds, while Boulay was good for 12 points (4-of-8), eight rebounds and four assists. Nwokeji chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds, while MacGregor added seven points on a perfect three-of-three from the floor.
UMass Boston got a game-high 19 points from Magras, while Powers finished with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from downtown. Powers added six steals and four boards to his final line.
The Panthers shot an even 56% (28-of-50) from the field, while holding the Beacons to 42% (21-of-50) shooting. Aided by Powers' performance, the Beacons finished 9-of-17 (53%) from behind the arc, but Plymouth State owned a decisive 34-23 advantage on the boards. PSU also outscored UMass Boston 36-20 in the paint.
Plymouth State returns to Foley Gymnasium on Saturday for a key LEC contest with Western Connecticut State University (3:00 p.m.). UMass Boston is also back in league action on Saturday. The Beacons will travel to Eastern Connecticut State University for a 3:00 p.m. game.
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