Panthers (No. 6) to meet Keene State (No. 3) in LEC Tourney on Tuesday
DANBURY, Conn. – Western Connecticut State University used a 13-0 run over the final three minutes of overtime to knock off Plymouth State University 86-74 in Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers fall to 15-10 (6-8 LEC) and will be the sixth seed for next week's LEC Tournament. PSU will travel to third-seeded Keene State College for a quarterfinal game on Tuesday. Western Connecticut also finishes the regular season at 15-10 overall, but its 8-6 league mark leaves the Colonials as the fifth seed.
Plymouth State took the lead on its first overtime possession when sophomore Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) drained a three-pointer from the right sideline, the Panthers' only deep ball of the afternoon. After a Colonials basket, junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.) knocked down a pair of free throws for a 74-71 lead with 3:02 left to play. Those would be the last PSU points of the contest, however, as Western Connecticut took control of the extra session.
Senior Phil Starks (Hartford, Conn.) hit consecutive lay-ups and a free throw to put the Colonials up 76-74, then came up with a pair of steals on the defensive side. The first steal led to a put-back bucket by senior Luis Bridtter (Stamford, Conn.), while the second resulted in a three-pointer from freshman Elias Rodriguez (Bristol, Conn.). The Colonials didn't look back from there.
Plymouth State had an opportunity to end the game in regulation. With the game tied 69-69 the Panthers had two possessions but were unable to find the bottom of the basket.
Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) continued his recent stretch of dominant inside play, finishing with a team-high 25 points (8-11 shooting) and six rebounds. The senior has averaged 23 points and nine rebounds while shooting over 70% from the floor in his last three games.
Arsenault closed out the regular season with his first double-double of the year behind 20 points and 10 boards. Boulay added 11 points off the bench, and junior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.
WCSU was led by Starks, who notched 33 points and six rebounds. He made the most of his 19 trips to the free throw line, connecting 16 times. Bridtter added 16 points and 10 rebounds, while junior Tre'Von Perry (Waterbury, Conn.) added 14 points and 10 boards. Senior Ryan Belote (Meriden, Conn.) added 14 points.
PSU can expect a highly competitive playoff game Tuesday night (7:30 p.m.). The sixth-seeded Panthers will travel to third seed Keene State College. The two teams split a pair of overtime games already this season, with each team winning on its home court. The Owls upended Plymouth State 78-71 on Jan. 20, while the Panthers returned the favor with a 78-76 win on Feb. 10.
Western Connecticut (No. 5) will travel to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (No. 4) in another LEC quarterfinal game on Tuesday night (7:00 p.m.).
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