Juniors, Roche lead Panthers in LEC setback
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Visiting Eastern Connecticut State University shot a blistering 64% (16-of-25) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes to build a 20-point halftime lead, then held on in the second half to earn a 72-55 win over Plymouth State University in a Little East Conference (LEC) match-up at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
Plymouth (5-14, 1-8 LEC) used great ball movement in the first quarter and trailed just 19-15 after the opening ten minutes, but the Warriors (9-10, 6-3 LEC) outscored the hosts 25-9 in the second quarter to pull away. PSU outscored Eastern Connecticut 31-28 in the second half, but the early lead was too much to overcome.
The teams went back and forth through the first quarter, with the Panthers recording assists on their first five baskets. Sophomore Brittany Roche (Londonderry, N.H.) connected from long range to put the hosts ahead 9-8 midway through the quarter. Eastern Connecticut went ahead 14-11 after a basket by senior Kelly Reardon (Holyoke, Mass.), but junior Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) answered at the other end. The Warriors scored five of the final seven points to take a 19-15 lead into the second.
The teams traded baskets through the first 2:30 of the second quarter, with Morrill connecting along the baseline to make it 23-19, but ECSU seized control with an 18-2 run over the next five minutes. Roche momentarily stopped the surge with a triple from the right corner, but a Warriors' free throw and a jumper from sophomore Mya Villard (Cromwell, Conn.) put the visitors ahead 44-24 at halftime.
Eastern Connecticut extended the lead to 53-29 four minutes into the third quarter, but PSU used an 11-4 spurt to cut into the advantage. Conant sank four straight from the charity stripe and freshman Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, N.H.) drained a three-pointer during the rally. Eastern settled and went back ahead by 20 and the Warriors would hold a 64-43 lead at the end of the quarter.
Plymouth continued to battle into the fourth quarter. Baskets by Morrill and Conant cut it to 66-49 with 5:33 to play, and moments later Roche used a nice move to cut along the baseline and kiss it off the glass. A steal by junior Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) at the other end led to a fast-break layup for junior Emily Brochu (Lewiston, Maine) to pull the Panthers to within 15, 68-53, with 3:44 to go, but that was as close as the home team would get.
Conant led the Panthers with 14 points and seven rebounds, with Roche chipping in with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Roche added a game-high four blocks. Emerson finished with 11 points and Morrill contributed six points and six assists.
Villard led all scorers with 22 points, missing just two shots all game. She finished 7-of-8 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Junior Kelsey Santagata (Stamford, Conn.) added 16 points and 10 rebounds, with sophomore Sabrina LeMere (North Branford, Conn.) contributing 14 points.
The teams finished comparable from the field with the hosts shooting 42.9% (21-of-49) and Eastern Connecticut shooting at 48.1% (25-of-52), but the visitors made 21-of-27 from the charity stripe while PSU had just 14 free throw attempts (10-of-14).
Plymouth State will take a break from Little East play with a non-conference game at New England College on Monday (6:00 p.m.), while the Warriors travel to Connecticut College for a non-league game on Tuesday (7:00 p.m.).
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