NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Keene State College shot 62 percent from the floor and put five players in double figures Friday night, defeating Plymouth State 110-93 and eliminating the Panthers from the Little East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Owls, 19-7, advance to the LEC title game Saturday against the winner of the Western Connecticut-UMass Dartmouth contest. The Panthers, 19-7, await word on an NCAA or ECAC play-off berth, which will be announced Sunday or Monday.
The game was closer than the final score showed. Keene State trailed the Panthers by five at the half, 55-50, but the Owls opened the second half with a 20-10 run to take a five-point lead. It was an eight-point Owl lead (96-88) with 2:45 to play, but KSC’s Chris Coates (22 points) hit a shot and the Owls converted 10 free throws down the stretch.
PSC was led by junior Adam DeChristopher (Brockton, MA) with 26 points, including four three-point field goals. Senior Doug Stokes (Wyckoff, NJ) played well, contributing 20 points, including 10-of-14 free throws. Senior Ace Elefteriadis (Belmont, MA) added 17 points, and junior Eric McQueen (Lawrence, MA) chipped in with 15.
“They kind of outplayed us the last 10 minutes,” said DeChristopher. “I honestly have no idea what it was. We could’ve played better, and all of us know that. I though we had the better team, but…”
The Owls were led by Coates and Fred Fieldhouse, who each scored 22 points. Coates hit 6-of-8 field goals and 9-of-11 free throws, while Fieldhouse was deadly from long range, connecting on 5-of-7 three pointers. Stacy Massiah (18 points on 9-of-10 shooting), Kareem Porter (16 points) and Rich Bahlmann (14 points) all hit double figures for the Owls.
“It was a great ballgame, and very exciting,” said PSC coach Paul Hogan. “They got the momentum the last 10 minutes. The ball didn’t bounce our way, and they took advantage.”
The high-paced, high-scoring game was to Keene State’s liking, but not PSC’s. The Owls had more depth, while the Panthers were without their top defensive player, senior Seth Peloso (Rye, NH), who was out with an injury.
“I knew they wanted to get the score up around 100,” said Hogan. “I was disappointed we gave up a few easy baskets. We had a few mental errors that cost us, and Fieldhouse certainly had a big day.”
“That was the tempo we wanted,” agreed Keene State coach Phil Rowe. “We’re pretty deep, and we knew they were without Peloso. We wanted to get the game into the 90s or 100.”
The verdict also gives Keene State an 8-3 lead in the Presidents’ Trophy race between PSC and KSC.
DeChristopher’s 26 points gives the Panther point guard 1,419 career points, moving him into third place on PSC’s all-time scoring list. He trails only career leader Moses Jean-Pierre (2,483 from 1990-94) and Dave Levesque (1,475 from 1988-91).