Nwokeji paces Panthers in LEC defeat
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – An impressive second half defensive effort and sharp-shooting from long range helped lead Rhode Island College past Plymouth State University 71-48 in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball on Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers stand at 12-6 (3-4 LEC) after suffering their third-straight LEC setback. With the win Rhode Island College improves to 3-14 and 2-5 in conference play.
The Anchormen finished a sizzling 50% (9-of-18) from beyond the arc on the afternoon. In a sign of things to come, RIC freshman Jimmy Fritzson (Sharon, Mass.) opened the scoring with a three-pointer in the game's opening minutes. Sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) brought the Panthers to within one, 5-4, but Fritzson connected from deep again for an 8-4 lead after six minutes.
Senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) hit a free throw to cut the PSU deficit to 10-9 after 7:39, and a long ball from junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) tied the game at 12-12 with 11:26 left in the opening half. The Anchormen responded with five straight points, including the first of five three-pointers from sophomore Chris Green (Taunton, Mass.).
Arsenault's jumper with 7:18 to play in the half brought the Panthers to within 21-19, but freshman Gianni Carwin (Stamford, Conn.) scored five straight points to build a 26-19 lead for RIC. Plymouth State answered with six straight points, but Green connected from deep again to put the hosts up 29-25 with 3:25 to go. The two teams played even from that point, with a Nwokeji free throw leaving the Panthers behind 33-29 at the half.
RIC picked up the defensive intensity to open the second half with a 15-2 run spanning nearly seven minutes. Junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) stopped the run with an interior bucket, and Boulay followed with a three-pointer to cut the RIC lead to 48-36 with 13:13 left to play. The Anchormen responded with a 10-2 spurt, before junior Nick MacGregor (Rochester, N.H.) hit from deep for a 58-41 deficit with 8:56 remaining. Fritzson answered with his third trey of the game and the hosts would coast to victory.
Nwokeji was the high man for the Panthers for the second straight game, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds. Arsenault chipped in with nine points and seven boards, while Boulay added seven points and three assists.
Green finished with a game-high 23 points, connecting on 5-of-8 three-point attempts. He added six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Fritzson added 11 points, making 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, and Carwin chipped in with 11 points and three assists.
Plymouth State will look to get back on track Wednesday night. The Panthers play host to Southern Maine in a key LEC game, with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m. RIC will be back in league action Wednesday when the Anchormen travel to Western Connecticut State for a 7:30 game.
-- 30 --