Rivera matches career-high as Panthers shoot over 61%
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Dante Rivera (Methuen, Mass.) matched a career-high with 34 points and Plymouth State University shot a sizzling 61.4% from the floor as the Panthers topped the University of Southern Maine, 99-80, in a Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Rivera drained seven three-pointers and finished 11-of-16 from the floor to lead four Panthers in double figures. Southern Maine got out to a quick start, leading 6-2 in the opening minute, but the Panthers would surge ahead and never trail again. Rivera was hot from all over the court, burying shots from well beyond the line, while the Panthers 61.4% field goal percentage was the team's highest since it shot 61.5% in a 91-76 win over Western Connecticut on Dec 13, 2008.
With the victory PSU evens its record at 7-7 and improves to 2-4 in the LEC, while Southern Maine moves to 6-9 and 1-6 in conference play.
Plymouth State 99, Southern Maine 80
Plymouth State (7-7, 2-4 LEC)
Southern Maine (6-9, 1-6 LEC)
How it Happened.
- Southern Maine got out to a quick 6-2 lead, but the Panthers roared back with eight straight points sparked by an old-fashioned three-point play from junior Gerald Fleming (Tampa, Fla.).
- Rivera pulled up from behind the arc and a Kevin Henry (Stratham, N.H.) steal led to another Rivera triple as PSU went ahead 20-13 with 12:38 left in the first half.
- The PSU defense picked up the intensity from there, forcing four USM turnovers over the next four minutes and senior Jaylen LeRoy's (Manchester, N.H.) running jumper in the lane pushed the advantage to 33-18.
- Sophomore Manny Alisandro (Manchester, N.H.) scored on a no-look feed from Rivera to make it 42-25 with five minutes left in the half, but junior DJ Anderson (Houston, Texas) and freshman Cody Hawes (Carmel, Maine) answered with all 10 points in the Huskies' ensuing 10-2 run.
- USM pulled to within eight, 48-40, on a jumper by senior Derek Haney (Auburn, Calif.), but Rivera answered with a deep three and the Panthers took a 51-42 lead into halftime.
- Rivera nailed another long triple and LeRoy came up with a steal and breakaway layup as PSU pushed the lead to 60-46 after 3:30.
- Rivera was fouled from behind the line and sank all three free throws to make it a 69-51 lead with 12 minutes to play and four minutes later he swished his seventh trifecta of the night to make it a 78-60 game.
- Henry sank a pair of free throws as Plymouth State maintained the sizable advantage and the Huskies wouldn't get closer than 15 the rest of the way.
Inside the Numbers:
- Rivera finished 11-of-16 from the floor, including 7-of-9 from long range, for his 34 points, while LeRoy added 17 points and three rebounds.
- Henry came off the bench for a career-high 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting and added four rebounds and a game-high four steals.
- Alisandro posted his second double-double in the last three games, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
- Sophomore Jacobe Thomas (Houston, Texas) led the Huskies with 23 points, while Anderson added 14 points and seven rebounds.
- PSU went 35-of-57 from the floor and sank 8-of-13 (61.5%) three-pointers.
- USM held a 35-30 advantage on the boards.
Straight From the Coach's Mouth:
"The last few games we really didn't like some of the shots we were seeing," said assistant coach Zach Stevens. "We really emphasized shooting from the outside after getting into the paint, then making maybe three, four ball reversals and it showed tonight. We got some great open looks and the guys knocked them down."
- Both teams remain in LEC action on Saturday (Jan. 18). Plymouth State visits UMass Dartmouth at 3:00 p.m., while the Huskies host Eastern Connecticut at the same time.
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