Conant leads Panthers to win in Boys & Girls Club Classic
CONCORD, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's basketball team kicked off the 2017-18 season with an impressive 67-47 win against Rivier University in the first game of the annual Boys & Girls Club Classic at NHTI on Wednesday night.
Junior Jess Conant (Canton, Maine) led the Panthers with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Classmate Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points (five-of-six shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists. Junior Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) and sophomore Mary Beitzel (Lancaster, Pa.) each contributed eight points and four steals in the win.
The Raiders (0-1) were led by junior Kaylee Kacavas (Dracut, Mass.), who paced all scorers with 27 points. The 5-8 guard added nine rebounds and six blocks to her stat line. Junior Megan Hamel (Colebrook, N.H.) added a double-double in the opener, dropping 12 points while pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds.
The teams played even through the first four minutes. Kacavas put Rivier up 9-8 after draining a jumper, but the Panthers answered with an 8-2 run. Conant had four points in the run on a pair of jumpers from close range. A pair of free throws from Kacavas and a jumper from Emerson left the Panthers with a 18-13 lead after the first quarter.
PSU (1-0) extended the lead to 12 after Conant scored the first seven points of the second quarter. The 5-10 forward opened with a baseline drive and layup, added three free throws, then used a ball fake and drive to the basket to cap the run. Kacavas stopped the run with a three-pointer and lay-in to cut the margin to 25-18, but Plymouth State responded with a 10-0 run connecting on easy layups and outside jumpers. Kacavas added a free throw and layup to make the score 35-21 at the half.
A pair of free throws from Morrill extended the lead to 43-23 three minutes into the second half. Rivier was able to trim the deficit to 15, 46-31, after a jumper from Hamel, but the Panthers maintained control.
The PSU lead ballooned to 25 (59-34) after a layup from freshman Ayana Howard (Manchester, N.H.) and the Panthers weren't challenged the rest of the way.
The Panthers are back in action on Friday when they travel to Plattsburgh State to compete in the Cardinal Classic. PSU will open with the host Cardinals at 6:00 p.m. Rivier will be on the road against UMass Dartmouth to compete in the Fairfield Inn & Suites Classic Friday at noon.
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