Johnson paces Panthers in quarterfinal setback
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Ernie Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) scored a game-high 15 points but the fifth-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston men's basketball team was able to hold off fourth-seeded Plymouth State University, 61-57, in the quarterfinal round of the Little East Conference (LEC) Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
UMass Boston will advance to Friday's semifinal to play top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State, while the loss ends Plymouth's season.
After a quick start by the Panthers, who jumped out to a 7-1 lead, the Beacons chipped away, eventually pulling ahead 10-9 after six-and-a-half minutes. UMB would not trail again. The visitors, behind a three-pointer at the buzzer, took a nine point lead (34-25) into the break.
Plymouth would cut the margin to one on multiple occasions in the second half, but could never regain the lead. Senior Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) had a tough layup in traffic to bring the hosts to within 56-55 with 1:27 to play. After UMB made one-of-two free throws, Beacon sophomore Rollsky Edouard (Holbrook, Mass.) came up with a huge steal which led to a layup by freshman Dasan Cinelli (Boston, Mass.). PSU got a tip-in from sophomore Mike Osgood (Nashua, N.H.) to make it a 59-57 game with eight seconds left, but the Beacons wrapped up the victory with two free throws.
Foley Gymnasium, Plymouth, N.H. – Tues., Feb. 21, 2017 – LEC Playoffs Quarterfinal (#4 vs. #5)
(#4) Plymouth State 57, (#5) UMass Boston 61
Plymouth State 12-13; UMass Boston 14-12
* Johnson … game-high 15 points, three steals
* Osgood … 12 points (5-of-7), five rebounds
* Freshman Jaylen Leroy (Manchester, N.H.) … 12 points, three rebounds
* Senior Nathan Clarke (Reading, Mass.) … eight points, seven rebounds, four assists
* Freshman Alex Sanchez (Salem, Mass.) … 14 points (5-of-8), four assists, two steals
* Senior Dan Powers (Westwood, Mass.) … 12 points, nine rebounds
* Junior Iser Barnes (Boston, Mass.) … 11 points, three rebounds
* Senior Sam Freeman (Boston, Mass.) … nine points, four rebounds
BY THE NUMBERS
* Both teams made 20 field goals and five three pointers. PSU finished 20-of-45 (44.4%) from the floor, while the Beacons were 20-of-50 (40.0%).
* UMB made 5-of-15 (33.3%) attempts from beyond the arc, while the Panthers were 5-of-11 (45.5%).
* UMass Boston won the game with an advantage at the charity stripe. The visitors made as many free throws (16) as the Panthers attempted.
* The Beacon bench accounted for 32 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
* Osgood sank a pair of midrange jumpers and Johnson swished a three from the right wing to help PSU build an early 7-1 lead.
* UMB answered with seven straight points and Freeman's jumper put the Beacons in front 8-7 after five minutes.
* Barnes extended the UMass Boston lead to 14-9 with a baseline jumper, but junior Collin Sullivan (Plymouth, N.H.) hit a driving layup to cut the margin to 14-11 midway through the opening half.
* Johnson had six straight points and his layup with 6:22 left in the half cut the Beacons' lead to 23-21.
* UMB answered with a quick 8-2 burst with Powers draining a triple just as the shot clock expired to pull ahead 31-23 and senior Neil Cesar (Randolph, Mass.) swished a straight-on three as the half closed to give the Beacons a 34-25 lead at the intermission.
* PSU opened the second half with a 10-2 run and Clarke's three-pointer brought the Panthers to within one, 36-35, after five minutes.
* Leroy nailed a triple from the left corner to cut the Beacons' lead to 43-40 at the midpoint of the half.
* UMass pushed the lead back up to nine points, 51-42, after Barnes connected from beyond the arc with under seven minutes to play.
* Plymouth State chipped away. Clarke hit another three and two freebies from Leroy made it 54-51 with 3:46 to go.
* Arsenault came up with a huge steal, leading to a Preston fast-break layup to make it a 56-55 game with 1:27 left to play.
* Powers made one-of-two free throws and a key Beacons' steal and layup put the guests up 59-55 with less than 10 seconds to play. After a tip-in by Osgood, Sanchez iced the game with two free throws.
* The Panthers held a 1-5 league record on January 18th, but sixth-year head coach Andrew Novick led the team to wins in five of their final eight conference games to surge to the #4 seed. It was the highest seeding for a PSU men's basketball team since the 2008-09 season and earned the team its first home playoff game since Feb. 22, 2005.
* Preston ends the season as the team's top scorer (381 points, 18.1 ppg) and rebounder (170 rebounds, 8.1 rpg) while also leading the team with 35 blocked shots (1.7 bpg). He finished his career with 1,061 total points which puts him in 18th place among Plymouth's all-time scoring leaders.
* Arsenault also eclipsed the 1,000 point plateau during his senior campaign finishing his career with 1,236 points to land in ninth place all-time. He averaged 9.5 points per game during his senior season.
* Osgood and Leroy finished second and third among the team's scoring leaders. Osgood finished with 282 points (11.3 ppg), with Leroy adding 274 (11.0 ppg). Osgood also grabbed 139 boards for a 5.6 per game average.
* Clarke ends the season with 87 assists (3.5 apg) and 51 steals (2.0 spg), both tops on the team.
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