PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State College women's basketball team hit eight of its first 10 shots Tuesday evening to build a 12-point lead just five minutes into the game, and the Panthers never looked back en route to a 92-59 victory over Western Connecticut State University in the first round of the Little East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
The Panthers move on to the LEC semifinals Friday at top-seeded Southern Maine. Third-seeded PSC will meet second-seeded Eastern Connecticut in the 6:00 p.m. game, with USM hosting fourth-seeded Keene State in the 8 o'clock game.
The two semifinal winners will tip off at 3:00 p.m. Saturday at USM for the LEC title, with the champion receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
After the early 12-point lead, PSC extended the margin to more than 20 points (39-18) with six minutes to go in the first half before settling for a 24-point bulge (49-25) at the break. The Panther lead reached 30 in the opening five minutes of the second half, when PSC went to the bench and WCSU never challenged the rest of the way.
The victory was PSC's fifth in a row and 14 in its last 16 outings. The Panthers improve to 19-7 overall, while WCSU completes its season at 9-17.
Senior Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.) led the Panthers with 17 points and seven steals in just 23 minutes of action. Senior forwards Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) and Heather Adey (Nashua, N.H.) each scored 10 points in 20 minutes, combining to hit 10 of their 13 shots. Senior guard Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) registered a season-high 13 assists to go along with seven points, eight rebound and four steals, and sophomore Lauren Devereaux (Hope Valley, R.I.) came off the bench to add a career-high 14 points and eight boards.
Senior Tory Anderton (Ridgefield, Conn.) led the Colonials in her final collegiate game, scoring 16 points and making eight steals. Freshman Alva Jeffreys (Bridgeport, Conn.) added 13 points, sophomore Kristie Brickner (Galway, N.Y.) contributed 12, and sophomore Jayme Beckham (Newtown, Conn.) chipped in with 10.
After its torrid start, PSC finished with a 54.1 shooting percentage while holding WCSU to a 38 percent clip. The Panthers also had a 49-30 advantage on the boards.
The Panthers will be looking for their first win of the season against Eastern Connecticut. The Warriors downed PSC 83-73 in Plymouth on Dec. 14, followed by an 89-80 verdict in Willimantic, Conn., on Feb. 1.