Five Panthers finish in double-figures as late rally falls short
DANBURY, Conn. – All five starters finished in double figures for the Plymouth State University women's basketball team, but Western Connecticut State University made 14 three-pointers en route to an 89-75 win in a Little East Conference women's basketball game at Feldman Arena on Saturday afternoon.
It took 61 attempts from long range for the Colonials to reach the 14 triples, and WCSU shot just 32.7% (34-of-104) overall, but the volume of shots was enough to overcome Plymouth State's 53.3% shooting (32-of-60) from the field.
PSU trailed by as many as 22 midway through the third quarter, but the Panthers charged back to cut the lead down to nine points, 80-71, with just under five minutes to play. The Western Connecticut defense tightened up from there, limiting Plymouth State to just a pair of free throws and a layup in the game's final seconds, to earn the conference win.
Juniors Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) and Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) combined for the Panthers' first six points, and a three-pointer from sophomore Brittany Roche (Londonderry, N.H.) pulled PSU to within two, 11-9, after the first four minutes. Western Connecticut sophomore Genesis Torres (Stratford, Conn.) answered with a triple of her own to spark an 11-3 run for the hosts. Torres connected from beyond the arc a second time before junior Jess Conant (Canton, Maine) stopped the spurt back-to-back interior buckets to cut the margin to 22-16. The Colonials outscored PSU 8-4 from there to lead 30-20 after the first quarter.
WCSU continued to connect from distance to build a 20-point lead midway into the second quarter. The Panthers answered with 10-straight points to cut the lead in half as Conant's layup made it a 49-39 game with just over a minute left in the half. Torres got to the basket for a lay-in to account for the halftime score of 51-39.
A basket from freshman Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, N.H.) made it 51-41 in the opening minute of the third quarter, but the Colonials responded with four three-pointers as part of a 12-2 run to push the lead back to 20, 63-43, with 4:52 left in the third. Western Connecticut maintained the advantage, with Morrill's basket cutting the margin to 68-55 with 37 seconds to go, until WCSU scored two quick layups in the final 23 seconds to lead 72-55 heading into the fourth quarter.
Plymouth scored six unanswered points to open the final frame. Following a WCSU free throw, Roche hit from inside to cut the margin to 73-63 with 7:42 to play. Torres pushed the lead back to 15, 80-65, with a jumper with six minutes to go, but a layup from McLaughlin and consecutive baskets by Emerson cut the deficit to single digits, 80-71, with 4:40 remaining. That was as close as the Panthers would get, however, as WCSU used a 9-4 run to close the game.
Conant paced PSU with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, with Roche adding 16 points and nine rebounds. Morrill chipped in with 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Emerson and McLaughlin each added 10 points.
Torres led the Colonials with 14 points off the bench, including three triples. Sophomore Emma Belcourt (Cromwell, Conn.) and freshman Frances Snyder (Pine Plains, N.Y.) both finished with a trio of long balls, though they needed 24 attempts.
PSU is back in action on Wednesday (Jan. 10) when the Panthers host UMass Boston in another LEC contest. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.
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