GORHAM, Maine - Senior guard Brandy Adams (Jaffrey, N.H.) hit a cutting lay-up with one second remaining in overtime Friday night, and Plymouth State College's women's basketball team stunned Eastern Connecticut State University, 87-85, in the semifinals of the Little East Conference Tournament at the University of Southern Maine's Hill Gymnasium.
The third-seeded Panthers (20-7) advance to the championship game Saturday at 3:00 p.m. against host and top-seeded USM (24-3). The Huskies, ranked 14th in the Division III national poll, defeated fourth-seeded Keene State College 53-48 in the second semifinal. Second-seeded ECSU, which is ranked 18th in the Division III national poll, drops to 23-4.
PSC has never won the LEC women's basketball championship. The Panthers are making their first appearance in the title game since 2000, when they were defeated by USM, 87-40.
Plymouth State, which lost both games to Eastern during the regular season, trailed by as much as eight points late in the first half before going on an 11-2 run to close the half with a 38-37 lead. The Panthers led the entire second half, including an 11-point margin (69-58) with 5:45 to play.
Eastern would not go down easily. The Warriors battled back to tie the game at 77-77 with 49 seconds remaining in regulation. Each team had a chance for the winning bucket, but the game went to overtime.
PSC had a four-point lead three times in the extra session, but ECSU kept coming back. The Panthers led 85-81 with two minutes to go, but Eastern responded with a pair of hoops, the second coming with 21 seconds on the clock. That set up Adams' winning basket.
The Panthers got an excellent performance from its seniors. In addition to Adams, who finished with five points, point guard Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) registered 25 points (on 10-of-15 shooting), 11 rebounds and six assists. Guard Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.) contributed 22 points, forward Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Heather Adey (Nashua, N.H.) added 10 points and six boards.
Eastern Connecticut got 24 points and nine rebounds from junior Deanne Prior (Scituate, R.I.), 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds from junior Allison Coleman (Jewett City, Conn.), and 14 points and 16 rebounds from senior Morgan Perry (Scotland, Conn.). Sophomore Jen Bergeron (Jericho, Vt.) and junior Kathleen Burdelski (Newington, Conn.) chipped in with 10 points apiece.