Simpson erupts in second half to spark Panthers to LEC win
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Joe Simpson (Manchester, N.H.) drained six three-pointers in the second half to lead Plymouth State University to a thrilling, 71-66, come-from-behind win over Rhode Island College in a Little East Conference men's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers trailed 48-40 five minutes into the second half when Simpson came alive. The 5-11 guard completed a four-point play after draining a triple from the right corner as part of a 16-point outburst over just 7:37 of game time. His fifth trifecta put PSU ahead, 60-59, with 7:37 to play, but the Anchormen answered with a three-pointer at the other end to go back in front.
Neither team led by more than two until the final minute, when Simpson buried his sixth three just ahead of the shot clock to give the Panthers a 67-64 lead with just 46 seconds remaining. Freshman Dante Rivera (Methuen, Mass.) and Simpson added four free throws to seal the win.
With the win the Panthers move into sole possession of first place in the Little East with a 4-1 league mark, while improving to 8-4 overall. RIC drops to 9-5 and 2-3 in LEC play.
The Final Score:
Plymouth State 71, RIC 66
Plymouth State (8-4, 4-1 LEC)
RIC (9-5, 2-3 LEC)
How it Happened:
* Sophomore Sam Bonney-Liles (Hudson, N.H.) connected from way downtown to give PSU an early 8-3 lead in the game's first four minutes. It would turn out to be the Panthers' largest lead of the game.
* RIC fought back and senior Justin Campbell (New Haven, Conn.) completed an "and-1" to give the visitors a 12-11 lead after 8:11, but Rivera scored the next five points to put the Panthers back in front.
* Junior Ryan Roggenbuck (Goffstown, N.H.) slammed home a pair after a nice feed from Simpson for an 18-15 lead midway through the first half, but RIC answered with threes on consecutive possessions to go ahead, 23-20, minutes later.
* Freshman Deyshawn Tengbeh (East Providence, R.I.) got hot from distance for the visitors, hitting three long balls, but Bonney-Liles answered from distance and the Panthers took a 31-30 lead into the intermission.
* The Anchormen used an 8-2 spurt to open the second half and grab the lead. Tengbeh sank his fifth triple to give the visitors their largest lead, 46-38, 4:16 into the second half.
* The Panthers trailed 48-40 when Simpson got the hot hand, starting with the four-point play. He hit five of his next six shots, with all five makes coming from behind the arc, as PSU surged ahead, 60-59, with 7:37 to go, but Tengbeh answered from distance on the next possession to put RIC back in the lead.
* The game went back-and-forth from there. PSU had the ball in the final minute with the score tied at 64-64, when Simpson sank his sixth three-pointer, this one from the left wing, just ahead of the shot clock.
* Rivera sank a pair from the charity stripe to give the hosts a 69-64 lead, but freshman Kyerstan Casey (Riverside, R.I.) was fouled from beyond the arc with four seconds to play. The rookie swished the first two, then intentionally missed the third, but PSU was able to corral the rebound and Simpson's free throws iced the win.
Inside the Numbers:
* Simpson finished with a game-high 23 points and added 11 rebounds and three assists. He finished 6-of-8 from distance.
* Rivera added 14 points, six assists and three steals, while Roggenbuck continued a double-double of 10 points (4-of-5 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Freshman Manny Alisandro (Manchester, N.H.) added 11 points.
* Tengbeh poured in 21 points for the Anchormen, while adding eight boards and also draining six triples (6-of-11).
* Campbell added 20 points and 12 boards before fouling out, while junior Benjamin Vezele (Providence, R.I.) chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
* The long layoff hasn't seemed to effect the Panthers success from beyond the arc. PSU has shot nearly 41% (24-of-59) in their first two games back.
* RIC held a slight 50-45 advantage on the glass, but the Panthers ball movement led to 17 assists on 24 made field goals.
* PSU's 4-1 mark in the LEC is the team's best conference start since the 2004-05 season.
Straight from the Coach's Mouth:
"I was really proud of the way the guys battled back from down eight," said head coach Andrew Novick. "We had a couple injuries tonight, but the next man up certainly played an important role. Keene will be a really tough test for us on Tuesday."
* Plymouth State remains in league action on Tuesday (Jan. 8) when rival Keene State visits Foley Gymnasium for a 7:30 p.m. contest.
* RIC hosts the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in a conference game on Tuesday (Jan. 8) with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.
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