Panthers drop opener despite strong second half
HENNIKER, N.H. – New England College used an impressive second quarter to pull away from Plymouth State University, 76-59, in women's basketball action Saturday afternoon in the season-opener for both teams.
Senior Taylor Perry (Simsbury, Conn.) and junior Ace Lawrence (Middletown, Conn.) paced the Panther offense, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively. Perry also added three steals, while the two combined to connect on 5-of-12 three-point attempts. Juniors Savannah Miller (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Kayla Wyland (Melrose, Mass.) each added eight points and six rebounds in the losing effort.
Freshman Mikala Malboeuf (Fitchburg, Mass.) led the sharp-shooting Pilgrim attack, scoring a game-high 17 points (6-of-11) in 22 minutes off the bench. Junior LaQuil McKnight (Paterson, N.J.) contributed with 13 points (6-of-10) and four steals, while classmate Marissa Kopacz (Belchertown, Mass.) added 11 points (5-of-6), as the Pilgrims shot 53% from the field (32-of-60).
NEC opened the game with a 7-0 run before junior Lindsy Poulin (Goffstown, N.H.) scored the first Panther bucket of the season on a lay-up assisted by Lawrence. A layup and two free throws by Perry cut the Pilgrim lead to 7-6 with 5:38 left in the opening quarter. Trailing 14-9 Wyland hit back-to-back layups to close within one (13-14), but NEC closed out the quarter with four straight points to lead 18-13 after one quarter of play.
Miller hit from inside to cut the Pilgrim lead to 18-15 in the opening minute of the second quarter, but NEC responded with a 13-0 run to expand the lead to 31-15 with 5:31 left in the half. Perry and Wyland each added baskets before New England College scored six straight to lead 38-19 at halftime.
The trio of Perry, Lawrence and Miller led the way for the Panthers in the second half. Perry had eight points (3-of-4), while Lawrence and Miller added seven and six. PSU outscored NEC 23-22 in the third quarter, and 17-16 in the final frame, but the first half deficit was too much to overcome.
The Pilgrims held a slight edge on the glass, outrebounding PSU by a 36-34 margin, but owned a 42-28 advantage on points in the paint. Sparked by Malboeuf's contributions, the NEC bench outscored their PSU counterparts 36-16.
Plymouth State returns to action on Tuesday when the Panthers face Rivier University in the Boys & Girls Club Classic held at NHTI in Concord (6:00 p.m.). New England College travels to Nashua on Monday night for a match-up with Daniel Webster College (7:00 p.m.).
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