Panthers drop into tie for final playoff spot
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Senior Jaylen LeRoy (Manchester, N.H.) posted a game-high 26 points, but Eastern Connecticut State University used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to pull ahead before fending off a late comeback attempt by Plymouth State University for a 78-70 win over the Panthers in a Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball game at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
The first half featured back-and-forth action, with neither team gaining more than a six-point advantage and LeRoy's jumper in the final minute gave PSU a 33-30 lead at the break. The second half started similarly, as freshman Kevin Henry's (Stratham, N.H.) layup pulled the Panthers to within three, 48-45, but Eastern Connecticut grabbed momentum following a technical foul leading to a 10-0 run midway through the second half and Plymouth State struggled to get back into the game. The hosts maintained a double-digit lead until the final minutes. LeRoy's three pulled the Panthers to within five, 75-70, with less than a minute to go, but the Warriors hit a pair from the charity stripe to hold on for the win.
Plymouth State falls to 13-10 and 7-7 in the Little East, while Eastern Connecticut moves to 10-13 and 6-8 in the LEC. The Panthers drop into a tie with Keene State for the final playoff spot, while ECSU sits just one game back as the teams enter the final week of the regular season.
Plymouth State 70, Eastern Connecticut 78
Plymouth State (13-10, 7-7 LEC)
Eastern Connecticut (10-13, 6-8 LEC)
How it Happened.
- The first half went back-and-forth with ECSU taking its largest lead, 10-4, on a three less than five minutes in.
- Plymouth State kept the game close and freshman Cody Graham (Rye, N.H.) drilled a triple to pull the Panthers to within two, 20-18, midway through the half.
- LeRoy sank a pair of free throws to even the game at 22-22 with 6:49 left in the half and sophomore Manny Sanchez (Lawrence, Mass.) put the Panthers ahead with two minutes to go.
- Graham got to the rim to extend the lead to 31-27 and, after the Warriors pulled to within one, LeRoy drilled a jumper to give PSU a 33-30 halftime advantage.
- The lead traded hands a number of times over the first five minutes of the second half.
- The hosts went back ahead with five straight points, but Henry got to the rim to make it a three-point game, 48-45, with 11:15 to play.
- The Panthers were called for a technical foul on the ensuing possession and ECSU drained all four free throws as the momentum swung in favor of the Warriors. Eastern Connecticut added six more unanswered points to push the lead to 58-45.
- Henry completed a traditional three-point play to cut the margin to nine, 71-62, with 1:43 left and LeRoy knocked down a pair of triples to get the Panthers within five, 75-70, inside of a minute to go, but the hosts hit three-of-four from the line down the stretch to hold on for the win.
Inside the Numbers:
- LeRoy went 7-of-15 from the floor and 10-for-11 from the charity stripe for his 26 points.
- Henry added 13 points (5-of-8) and a team-high eight rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.
- Sanchez chipped in with eight points.
- For the second straight game the Panthers were on the short end of a sizeable free throw disparity. PSU knocked down 14-of-17 from the line, but the Warriors made 28-of-36 attempts.
- PSU held a 34-28 edge on the glass and outscored the Warriors 36-24 in the paint, while the Panthers' reserves outscored their counterparts by a 27-15 margin.
- Plymouth State returns home to face Castleton on Wednesday (Feb. 19) with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.
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