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Juniors lead Panthers past WCSU in LEC game

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State College's four juniors combined to score 55 points Tuesday night, leading the third-seeded Panthers to a 77-59 victory over sixth-seeded Western Connecticut State University in a Little East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal at Foley Gymnasium.

The win advances the Panthers (18-7 overall) to a semi-final encounter at 6:00 p.m. Friday in Gorham, Maine, against second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University. The Warriors, 24-1 overall and ranked #2 nationally in the USA TODAY/ESPN/WBCA poll, earned a first-round bye after sharing the regular season title with the University of Southern Maine. Western Connecticut concludes its season at 10-15.

Junior Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) led the Panthers with 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven steals, while classmate Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.) came off the bench to add 16 points. Junior Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) contributed 12 points and classmate Heather Adey (Nashua, N.H.) chipped in with 10 points and seven boards.

Freshman center Kristie Brickner (Galway, N.Y.) led the Colonials with 17 points and eight rebounds, hitting 7-of-11 from the field. Junior Tory Anderton (Ridgefield, Conn.) finished with 13 points, and sophomore Christin Morgatto (Seymour, Conn.) scored 12 points.

The game was close most of the first half before PSC went on a 14-4 run in the final two minutes to take a 13-point lead (40-27) into the break. The Panthers extended the lead to 20 points midway through the second half (58-38) before coasting home with the win.

The Panthers frustrated Western with a pressure defense, making 23 steals and forcing 32 Colonial turnovers. WCSU shot just 39 percent for the game, but had a 42-34 advantage in rebounding. PSC shot 44 percent from the field.

Plymouth State will be looking for their first win in three tries this season against Eastern Connecticut. The Warriors defeated the Panthers 82-71 in Willimantic, Conn., on Dec. 8th, and 85-73 in Plymouth on Jan. 26th.

The LEC Tournament championship game will be at Southern Maine on Saturday (3 p.m.), with the champion receiving an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.