Panthers to battle UMass Dartmouth on Thursday
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Following one of the most improbable wins in program history the Plymouth State University men's basketball team is one win away from an appearance in the Little East Conference (LEC) championship game. The third-seeded Panthers visit second-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for a semifinal round contest tomorrow (Feb. 27) at 7:00 p.m.
Plymouth State (16-10) pulled off a remarkable win over sixth-seeded Keene State on Tuesday night. In a back-and-forth battle the upset-minded Owls held a 64-59 lead with just 17 seconds remaining. Senior Joe Simpson (Manchester, N.H.) scored on a put back to make it a three-point game with seven seconds to go and, after Keene missed a pair of free throws, classmate Jaylen LeRoy (Manchester, N.H.) pulled down the rebound, ran the length of the court and banked in an off-balance three from the right wing over three defenders to send the game to overtime.
LeRoy came through again in the extra frame as his contested runner in the lane with two seconds left on the clock lifted the Panthers to a 72-70 win, snapping a string of 14-straight first round tournament exits.
Plymouth State enters the semifinal round full of confidence after sweeping the season series with the Corsairs. Sophomore Dante Rivera (Methuen, Mass.) scored 23 points while going 5-of-8 from distance to lead four players in double figures in a 75-63 win at the Tripp Athletic Center on Jan. 18, while LeRoy went for 23 points and came up with a clutch steal in the final seconds as the Panthers held on for a 78-76 win at home on Feb. 8.
UMass Dartmouth was tough to beat at home this year, though, as the Corsairs boast an 11-2 record inside the Tripp Athletic Center. UMD has historically been a tough match-up for Plymouth State in the postseason as well. The Corsairs are 7-1 all-time in head-to-head postseason matchups, including a perfect 5-0 at home. Sophomore Marcus Azor (Brockton, Mass.) leads UMass Dartmouth with 14.8 points per game, one of three Corsairs to average double figures.
The winner of tomorrow's contest will square off against the winner of top-seeded WestConn and fourth-seeded UMass Boston in Saturday's (Feb. 29) title game hosted by the highest remaining seed.
Additional information regarding the LEC Tournament can be found on the conference's website, www.littleeast.com.
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