Rivera dazzles in collegiate debut as Panthers take season opener
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Freshman Dante Rivera (Methuen, Mass.) kicked off his collegiate career with a team-high 23 points, including five three-pointers, to lead the Plymouth State University men's basketball team to a 99-91 win over St. Joseph's College in the season opener for both teams at Foley Gymnasium on Friday night.
Rivera connected on 5-of-8 from distance, while impressing the crowd with his ball-handling skills, while juniors Jaylen LeRoy (Manchester, N.H.) and Joe Simpson (Manchester, N.H.) each contributed 21 points as PSU won its fourth-straight season opener.
Sophomore Jack Casale (Portland, Maine) dropped a game-high 27 points for the Monks in the losing effort.
Prior to the game Plymouth State recognized active and retired service men and women in attendance as part of the department's Salute the Troops event. Retired US Navy Captain Paul Brochu served as the Panthers' honorary captain and tossed up the ceremonial jump ball with retired US Air Force Colonel Craig Souza.
Plymouth State 99, St. Joseph's 91
Plymouth State 1-0
St. Joseph's 0-1
How it Happened:
* Plymouth State jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead as freshman Manny Alisandro (Manchester, N.H.) drained a three.
* After the Monks pulled to within 9-7, Alisandro grabbed a Rivera miss and scored on the put back and moments later Rivera swished his first triple of the night.
* Simpson got to the basket to give the Panthers a double-digit lead, 22-11, after eight minutes of action.
* LeRoy scored five straight points for PSU and Simpson connected from beyond the arc as the hosts extended the lead to 30-13.
* The Panthers went into halftime with a 52-38 advantage.
* Plymouth State maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half. Rivera's triple pushed the score to 74-56 with 11:23 remaining, and just under five minutes later Simpson connected from distance as the lead ballooned to 87-67.
* Freshman Chris McCarthy (Chelmsford, Mass.) got into the action burying a triple to give the hosts their largest lead of the game, 91-69, with just under six minutes remaining.
* The Monks caught fire and used a 22-8 run to close out the game, but the margin was too large to overcome as PSU held on for the win.
Inside the Numbers:
* The 99 points are the most the Panthers have scored since a 100-93 win over Southern Maine on Feb. 14, 2012.
* PSU connected on 12-of-27 from long range (44.4%) as Rivera finished 5-of-8 and Simpson ended 4-of-8.
* Alisandro scored 15 points and added a team-best seven rebounds in his collegiate debut.
* SJC owned a 47-30 advantage on the glass, but the PSU defense forced 28 Monks' turnovers.
* Plymouth State never trailed.
Straight from the Coach's Mouth:
"I thought we played with great energy," said head coach Andrew Novick. "There were times we played really well and there were times we made freshman mistakes, but this was a great way to start the season. It gave our guys a whole bunch of confidence and to see guys step up and make big plays down the stretch was important."
* The Panthers are right back in action tomorrow (Nov. 10) when PSU travels to New England College for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.
* St. Joseph's opens its home schedule with a non-conference game against Thomas College on Tuesday (Nov. 13) at 7:30 p.m.
Retired Army Sgt. Maj. James Goss (L), retired Air Force Col. Craig Souza (C) and retired
Navy Capt. Paul Brochu (R) toss up the ceremonial jump ball.
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