Panthers avenge January loss to Owls with home-court victory
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's basketball team overcame in-state rival Keene State College in overtime Wednesday evening, 78-76, in Little East Conference action at Foley Gym.
The Panthers won with a huge team effort, receiving double-digit scores from six different players. Junior Nick MacGregor (Rochester, N.H.) led all PSU scorers with 14 points. Senior Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) and junior Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) weighed in with 12 points apiece, junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) and sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H) both added 11 points, while junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) chipped in with 10 points.
The Owls were led by freshman Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) who scored a game high 17 points. Junior Jaquel Edwards (Manchester, Conn.) contributed 15 points, while senior Nate Stitchell (Coventry, R.I.) added 13 points. Senior Nate Howard (Cheshire, Conn.) was the game's top rebounder, pulling down 11 boards.
The opening 15 minutes saw an even contest with multiple lead changes, as the teams traded baskets. The Owls looked to pull away down the stretch, opening up their biggest lead of the night (13 points) on a lay-up from sophomore Carlos Ovalle (Mansfield, Conn.) but with the half coming to an end, the Panthers responded, getting big 3 pointers from Johnson and Boulay in the final 70 seconds, leaving the Owls with a five point (39-34) lead heading into the locker room.
The Panthers came out firing in the second half, and Boulay would strike again from 3 point range, five minutes in, tying the game at 48-48. The Panthers would not relinquish the lead from this point on but could not put Keene away in regulation. Leading by seven points with 1:37 to play, the Owls would mount a comeback, tying the game at 74-74 on a Nichols lay-up, and sending the game into overtime.
In contrast to the scoring frenzy at the end of the second half, the teams went over four minutes of overtime without a score. Plymouth would eventually seize the initiative on a Preston lay-up with 51 seconds to play. Junior Matt Ozzella (Medway, Mass.) would tie the game 76-76, on two free throws, setting up the final panthers push, as a driving Nwokeji was fouled on his way to the baskets with four seconds to play. The Panther senior would score on the first throw, would miss the second but was fouled as he rebounded the ball. The senior would again make one of two but the Owls were not able to get a shot off as the clock wound down, giving the Panthers the crucial LEC victory.
PSU (14-8 / 5-6 LEC) will return to LEC action Saturday, hosting UMass Boston (3:00pm) for Senior Day. Keene (13-9 / 6-5 LEC) will hit the road Saturday to play at Western Connecticut (3:00pm)
(Photo courtesy of Meghan Lang)
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