Wyland scores 17; Lawrence just misses game-winner
BOSTON, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Boston won a back-and-forth battle against Plymouth State University, 57-56, in Little East Conference (LEC) women's basketball action at the Clark Athletic Center on Wednesday night.
With the loss the Panthers fall to 6-8 overall (0-4 LEC), while the Beacons improve to 9-5 and 2-2 in the LEC.
The fourth quarter was a roller coaster ride of action, as the teams traded the lead six times in the final 7:30. Sophomore Grace Geary (Falmouth, Mass.) put the hosts up 57-56 after connecting on one-of-two free throw attempts with just under 30 seconds to play. Plymouth State played for the last shot, but junior Ace Lawrence (Middletown, Conn.) was a bit too strong on a jumper in the lane with two seconds to play. UMB was able to grab the defensive rebound and run out the clock.
Plymouth State entered the final quarter with a 44-43 lead thanks to a strong third quarter. The Panthers outscored UMB 17-9 in the frame, turning a seven point halftime deficit (34-27) into a one point lead. A pair of free throws from sophomore Raven Kelsey (Boston, Mass.) put the Beacons up 45-44 with 7:21 to play, but junior Madison Beatrice (Newton, Mass.) put the Panthers back on top, 47-45, with a three-pointer from the right wing on the next possession.
Junior Taje Burston (Springfield, Mass.) cut the lead to 47-46 after hitting one-of-two free throws, but a minute later junior Kayla Wyland (Melrose, Mass.) pushed the margin back to three points, 49-46, when she connected off a pretty feed from senior Taylor Perry (Simsbury, Conn.). Kelsey knotted things at 49-49 less than a minute later, when she drained a triple from the right wing.
A pair of free throws from Lawrence put the visitors back on top, 51-49, with 2:41 remaining, but UMass tied things up again when Geary hit a left-handed scoop shot in the lane. The Beacons went up 53-51 after Kelsey connected twice from the charity stripe, but junior Savannah Miller (Smithtown, N.Y.) came up with a key steal and drove the length of the floor for a layup and foul putting the Panthers back up 54-53 with 1:21 to play.
Sophomore Katie Mathieu (Coventry, Conn.) scored her only points of the night on the next Beacons possession, hitting a clutch three-pointer from the left corner to put UMB back on top 56-54 with 72 seconds left. Junior Annaliese Schmidt (Newmarket, N.H.) retied the game at 56-56 after making two free throws with just under a minute to play, before Geary's free throw secured the UMass win.
Wyland finished with 17 points and three rebounds for the Panthers, while Lawrence added 10 points. Schmidt contributed nine points and seven rebounds, and freshman Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) came off the bench for six points and six boards.
Senior Olivia Murphy (Canton, Mass.) led the way for the hosts, scoring 14 points to go with 18 rebounds, including the 1,000th of her career, and three steals. Burston added 13 points and Geary was good for 11 points and seven rebounds. Kelsey added 12 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.
Both teams came out of the gate shooting well. Plymouth State shot 47% (7-of-15) in the opening frame, to the Beacons' 40% (6-of-15), but the hosts were 5-of-10 from long range to take a 19-15 after the first quarter. UMass Boston used its interior strength to push the lead to 34-27 at halftime. Murphy nearly had a double-double for the hosts in the second quarter alone, scoring 10 points while grabbing eight boards in the period.
The Panthers came out of the halftime break with a strong third quarter. The PSU offense shot the ball well (47%), while the defense limited the hosts to just four field goals, taking a one point lead, 44-43, into the final quarter.
Plymouth State finished the night shooting 37% (21-of-57) from the field and an even 30% (3-of-10) from long range. The Beacons ended at 35% (19-of-54) from the floor and 31% (8-of-26) from downtown, despite their early success from behind the arc in the first quarter. UMB held a 45-28 advantage on the boards, but the PSU defense forced 23 Beacons' turnovers and the hosts were only 55% (11-of-20) from the free throw line.
Plymouth State is back on the court Saturday when the Panthers play host to Western Connecticut State University in another LEC match-up. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m. The Beacons will travel to Eastern Connecticut State for a 1:00 p.m. conference game.
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