LeRoy plays the hero with two game-saving shots
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Jaylen LeRoy (Manchester, N.H.) banked home a three-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to stave off elimination, then buried a runner in the lane in the final seconds of overtime to lift third-seeded Plymouth State University to a thrilling 72-70 win over sixth-seeded Keene State College in the opening round of the Little East Conference (LEC) men's basketball tournament at Foley Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Keene State looked ready to pull off the upset as the visitors went to the free throw line with a 63-59 lead and just 17 seconds left in regulation, but could only connect on one-of-two and senior Joe Simpson (Manchester, N.H.) made it a three-point game, 64-61, with his layup with seven seconds to go. PSU quickly fouled and Keene missed both free throws. LeRoy grabbed the rebound, raced the length of the court and fired an off-balance shot over two defenders off the glass and in to send the game into overtime.
Neither team led by more than two points in the extra frame. With the game deadlocked at 70-70, LeRoy got into the lane and his floater found the bottom of the net for the lead with just two seconds remaining. PSU was assessed a technical for fan interference, but the Owls were unsuccessful from the stripe again and a final desperate heave went off the back iron as the Panthers held on for the dramatic win.
PSU improves to 16-10 and advances to the semifinal round on Thursday (Feb. 27) at second-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Plymouth State went 2-0 against the Corsairs this season. The loss snaps Keene State's (10-16) run of five straight finals appearances.
Plymouth State 72, Keene State 70 (OT)
Plymouth State (16-10)
Keene State (10-16)
How it Happened.
- Playing their rivals at home in a playoff game for the first time, the Panthers held a 35-28 lead at the half.
- Keene used a 9-0 run to pull ahead 57-50, with junior James Anozie (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) scoring six points during the spurt, capped by his layup with 6:34 to go.
- The Panthers got to within one, 57-56, on junior Devin Cooper's (Newfield, N.Y.) pretty finish with 2:11 remaining, but five straight points, capped by a clutch triple from freshman Nick Redden (Northborough, Mass.), pushed the visitors' lead to 62-56 with less than a minute on the clock.
- KSC went 2-of-6 from the line, leaving the door open for the Panthers, and LeRoy played hero for the first time with his acrobatic shot from the right wing to send the game to overtime.
- The teams traded baskets and PSU had a chance at the last shot. LeRoy knocked down a runner in the lane to give the Panthers a 72-70 lead with two seconds left, but the bench was charged a technical as fans got onto the court.
- Keene came up empty at the free throw line again, and one final attempt at the buzzer was too strong as the Panthers staved off elimination.
Inside the Numbers:
- LeRoy led the Panthers with 19 points, including 3-of-5 from distance and 4-for-6 at the line.
- Cooper also finished in double figures with 10 points and added eight rebounds, while sophomore Manny Alisandro (Manchester, N.H.) chipped in seven points and six boards.
- Anozie was a beast for the Owls, posting a game-high 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting, to lead three players in double figures. Freshman Jeff Hunter snagged 18 rebounds in the setback.
- Neither team was strong from the charity stripe as PSU went 11-of-22 (50.0%), while the Owls were just 7-of-23 (30.4%).
- Keene outscored the Panthers in the paint, 44-34, and held a 46-43 edge on the glass.
- The win was PSU's second in eight tries against their rivals in the LEC Tournament. It also marked the first LEC Tournament game between the two teams played in Foley Gymnasium.
- Plymouth State snapped a string of 14-straight first round exits in the tournament. PSU's last win came in the 2004-05 season when the Panthers advanced to the title game.
- Third-seeded Plymouth State heads to second-seeded UMass Dartmouth on Thursday (Feb. 27, 7:00 p.m.) for a semifinal contest. Top-seeded WestConn squares off against fourth-seeded UMass Boston in the other semifinal, with the title game set for Saturday (Feb. 29) at the highest remaining seed.
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