Nwokeji's 31 points & 18 rebounds leads Panthers
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's basketball team overcame UMass Dartmouth 88-83 in a key Little East Conference (LEC) contest at Foley Gymnasium.
The Panthers received stellar outputs from senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.), who tallied an impressive double-double of 31 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.), whose 22 points included three three-point baskets, and junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.), who chipped in with 16 points, 12 of which came in the first half blitz.
The Panthers' win took some of the gloss off of an outstanding individual performance from the Corsairs star senior, Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.). Rezendes was on fire all afternoon scoring 58 points on 18-of-26 shooting that included five three-point shots and 17-of-18 from the free throw line.
The Panthers came out of the blocks firing in the first half, raking up 57 points on 64.5% shooting, for a 19 point halftime lead. An explosive opening four minutes saw Boulay start the scoring with a jump shot that set the Panthers on their way to opening up a 10-opint lead on a Boulay three-point basket. The Corsairs would steady the ship over the following 14 minutes, before the Panthers would step on the gas again, extending their lead to 19 points as Boulay book-ended the half with a big three-point shot.
UMass Dartmouth would fight back in the second half, closing the gap to as few as two points during a nervous final 90 seconds. Nwokeji would come up big at the end, scoring four points in the final 40 seconds to seal the eventual five-point victory.
The game's two top performers turned it on for the home crowd during the second half shoot-out. Rezendes was huge for the Corsairs, adding 35 second-half points on 11-of-14 shooting. Nwokeji's second half was every bit as critical, as he added 16 of his 31 points. However, it was his dominance in the paint at both ends, contributing 12 second-half rebounds, that set the tone for the win.
With the victory the Panthers (13-7 overall) pull level with the Corsairs (11-8) in the LEC standings, as each sport identical 4-5 league marks. PSU will own the head-to-head tie-breaker, however, after besting UMD in both meetings this season. PSU will look to rest up with a week off before resuming LEC action at Eastern Connecticut next Saturday (Feb. 6) at 3:00 p.m. The Corsairs will return to action Tuesday with a road game at Tufts University (7:00 p.m.).
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