Leroy's career-high not enough as Panthers' late rally falls short
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Jaylen Leroy (Manchester, N.H.) scored a career-high 35 points, including five three-pointers, but Johnson State College used a 48-point second half to top Plymouth State University, 82-76, in a non-conference men's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
With the setback the Panthers head into the holiday break with a 5-5 record, while Johnson State stops a four-game skid to improve to 3-6.
Facing a 72-62 deficit with under 3:30 to play, Leroy swished a pull-up three from the left wing. After the teams traded free throws, Leroy hit from long range again. Junior Liam Densmore (Portland, Maine) came up with a steal on the inbounds play, then converted the easy basket to cut the margin to 78-76 with just 20 seconds remaining. JSC missed the front-end of a one-and-one, but the Badgers came up with the loose ball and, given a second chance, sank a pair from the charity stripe. A three-pointer from the Panthers was off the mark and senior Jeyquan Johnson (Harlem, N.Y.) sealed the Badgers' win with two more free throws.
Johnson State jumped out to a 7-2 lead over the game's first three minutes. Leroy finished a hard drive to the bucket to spark a 6-0 spurt for the home team. Moments later senior Demetrius Slade (Washington, D.C.) came up with a steal that led to an easy layup for the Badgers, but Leroy sank triples from both the left and right wings to give PSU a 14-9 lead.
A layup from junior Mike Osgood (Nashua, N.H.) pushed the Plymouth State lead to 20-12 midway through the first half and the teams traded buckets over the next two minutes. Johnson State cut into the deficit with a six point burst. Junior Shakeel Irvin (Orlando, Fla.) drained an 18-footer, then pulled down an offensive rebound and got the put-back to cut the deficit to 24-22 with 6:27 left in the half, but Densmore got inside for an easy basket at the other end.
After the Badgers cut the lead to a single point, Osgood flipped a behind-the-back pass to senior Kieran Beck (Danvers, Mass.) for the layup. Osgood found Beck again on the next play and Beck pulled down a defensive rebound following a JSC miss and hit Densmore on a breakout to put the hosts up 32-27. PSU played with the lead through the remainder of the half, though a steal and layup by Slade cut the margin to 39-34 at the intermission.
Johnson State scored the first seven points of the second half to pull in front. Slade sank a triple to tie things at 39-39 and senior Dawda Jallow (Allen, Texas) hit a pair of free throws to give the visitors the lead. Densmore was fouled from beyond the arc and sank all three at the charity stripe to pull the Panthers to within two, 52-50, with 12:14 left to play, but sophomore Alexander Vetere (Craftsbury, Vt.) caught fire for JSC. The 5-10 guard connected from five feet beyond the arc, hit a floater in the lane, then sank another trifecta to put the Badgers ahead 65-56 with 6:27 remaining. After a Leroy basket cut the PSU margin to 69-62 with 3:27 to go, Vetere hit from distance again to set up the exciting final three minutes of action.
Leroy finished with a career-best 35 points, while sinking 5-of-12 from distance. Densmore finished with 18 points (7-of-11) and Osgood added 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Beck pulled down a game-high 12 boards.
Senior Marqwon Wynn (Wilmington, Del.) led the Badgers with 25 points and six rebounds, with Vetere adding 13 points in 18 minutes off the bench. Johnson and Slade chipped in with 12 and 11 points respectively.
PSU will take some time off for finals and the holiday break before returning to the court for a non-conference home game with Lyndon State College on Jan. 3 (7:30 p.m.).
– 30 –