Panthers fall short in quarterfinal action
DANBURY, Conn. – Senior Emily Dobson (Westerly, R.I.) scored a game-high 20 points to lead fourth-seeded Western Connecticut State University over fifth-seeded Plymouth State University, 59-42, in the opening round of the Little East Conference (LEC) women's basketball tournament at Feldman Arena.
The loss marks the end of the year for the Panthers, who enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in recent history under second-year head coach Allison Flynn. PSU's eight wins and five conference victories were the most since the 2009-10 season and the five league wins were more than the previous six years combined. Western Connecticut advances to the semifinal round and will face top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic on Saturday.
Western Connecticut never trailed and built a double-digit lead in the first half. The Panthers used a strong third quarter push to get back into the game and sophomore Kailyn Aguiar (Acushnet, Mass.) had an offensive rebound and put back to cut the margin to just seven, 39-32, in the final seconds of the quarter, but a three from WCSU senior Samantha Smith (Wallingford, Conn.) as time expired pushed the Colonials' lead back to 10 points. Western would lead by double-digits throughout the fourth quarter to advance.
Feldman Arena, Danbury, Conn. – Tues., Feb. 21, 2017 – LEC Playoffs Quarterfinal (#4 vs. #5)
(#5) Plymouth State 42, (#4) Western Connecticut 59
Plymouth State 8-17; Western Connecticut 15-11
* Senior Kayla Wyland (Melrose, Mass.) … team-high nine points, nine rebounds
* Senior Annaliese Schmidt (Newmarket, N.H.) … eight points, 10 rebounds
* Sophomore Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) … eight points, three rebounds, three steals
* Aguiar … six points, three rebounds
BY THE NUMBERS
* PSU shot 30.5% (18-of-59) from the floor while the Colonials, who shot just 33.8% in a loss to the Panthers on Saturday, finished 26-of-64 (40.6%) on their home court.
* WCSU put up 24 attempts from beyond the arc but sank just four (16.7%). Plymouth finished one-of-seven from distance (14.3%).
* Western Connecticut owned a 47-36 advantage on the glass.
HOW IT HAPPENED
* With the game knotted at 4-4 after the opening five minutes the Colonials used an 8-0 spurt to pull ahead. Smith started the run with a layup and later connected from beyond the arc to take a 12-4 lead with 2:11 left in the quarter.
* Wyland stopped the run with a pair of free throws, but a WCSU offensive rebound and put back just before the buzzer made it 14-6 in favor of the home team after one.
* The teams traded baskets over the first few minutes of the second quarter. A three-pointer pulled the Panthers to within five, 18-13, midway through the quarter.
* WCSU used an extended 10-0 run to seize control. Dobson got to the rim twice to spark the run.
* Senior Savannah Miller (Smithtown, N.Y.) came up with a steal and went the length of the floor to hit a layup as time expired to make it a 28-15 deficit at the break.
* The teams went back-and-forth to open the third quarter with Schmidt accounting for the first six Panther points.
* Emerson had consecutive baskets for PSU to cut the deficit to 34-25 with 3:27 left in the frame.
* Aguiar had an offensive rebound and put back to bring the Panthers to within 39-32 as time ran down in the quarter, but Smith drained a three from the right wing as the clock reached 0:00 to make it 42-32 heading to the fourth.
* PSU kept the game within 10 points until Dobson connected on back-to-back possessions to put the Colonials up 50-36 with 4:28 to play.
* A jumper by junior Nicole Mierzejewski (Meriden, Conn.) pushed the Western lead to 20, 57-37, with two minutes remaining.
* Miller's free throw capped the scoring.
* The setback also signaled the final game in the careers of Plymouth's seven seniors; Maddy Beatrice (Newton, Mass.), Leah Swanson (Atkinson, N.H.), Lindsy Poulin (Goffstown, N.H.), DeAsia 'Ace' Lawrence (Middletown, Conn.), Wyland, Miller and Schmidt.
* Lawrence finishes the year as the Panthers' top scorer for the third straight season with 320 points (12.8 ppg). She wraps up a stellar career with 1,114 points, good enough for seventh place on Plymouth State's all-time scoring list.
* Wyland finished second on the team with 297 points (11.9 ppg) and led the team with 201 rebounds (8.0 rpg) and 34 blocks (1.4 bpg). The three-year player's 697 career points are 29th best in program history.
* Beatrice ended the year with a team-best 53 assists (2.2 apg), while Miller (33 steals, 1.3 spg) and Swanson (31 steals, 1.2 spg) were two of the team's best defenders.
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