KEENE, N.H. – Sophomore Bri Barnes (Merrimack, N.H.) scored a career-high 29 points with six three-pointers and classmate Sarah Begnoche (Millville, Mass.) finished with 14 points and nine rebounds Tuesday night to lead third-seeded Keene State College to a 68-57 victory over sixth-seeded Plymouth State University in an opening round game of the Little East Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament at Spaulding Gym.
It was the fourth win in a row for the Owls (16-10), who advance to the semifinal round where they will face second-seeded Eastern Connecticut on Friday night at top-seeded Southern Maine. It is the fourth time KSC has moved on to the semifinals since joining the LEC in the 1997-98 season.
Plymouth State dropped its fourth straight and concludes its season with a 9-16 mark.
The Owls raced out to a 33-26 halftime lead. Barnes, who had 19 first half points, hit five of six three-point attempts. KSC went on a 12-2 run midway in the half to build up a 30-18 lead at the 3:55 mark. PSU cut the deficit to 30-26, before Barnes buried her fifth trey for the halftime margin.
A couple of fast break lay-ups by Begnoche to open the second half, the first on a over-the-head pass from Barnes and the second following a steal by Cathy Mechare (Falls Village, Conn.) put KSC up 45-35 at 14:50.
Sophomore Colleen Mahoney (North Attleboro, Mass.) pulled PSU to within five points (52-47) with 8:38 to play, but the Owls responded with an 8-1 run to go up 60-48 with 4:28 remaining. Barnes sealed the win with a breakaway lay-up to put KSC up 64-56 with 1:30 on the clock.
Bekka Hopkins (Oxford, Mass.) added 12 points for the Owls, who hit 9-of-23 three-point attempts in the game.
No Panthers reached double figures in scoring as the visitors shot just 29% from the field. Mahoney led the team with nine points, while senior Betsy Oswalt (Jaffrey, N.H.) had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.
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