PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Josean Vega (Pawtucket, R.I.) scored a career-high 32 points Wednesday evening, leading seventh-seeded Wheaton College to an 86-83 upset victory over second-seeded Plymouth State College in the quarterfinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Men’s Basketball Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
The Lyons improve to 19-9 overall and advance to the ECAC semifinal round, where they will meet third-seeded Keene State College Saturday at Keene. The Owls advanced Wednesday with an 89-84 overtime victory over sixth-seeded Gordon College.
PSC completes its season at 21-8 overall, the second-most wins in school history and one victory shy of the record 22 wins set in 1998-99.
The visitors led most of the game, but had trouble putting PSC away. Wheaton built a nine-point lead (28-19) midway through the first half but saw the Panthers go on a 13-3 run to take a 32-31 lead with 4:20 remaining in the half. The Lyons settled for a 41-39 advantage at the break.
After trading baskets early in the second half, Wheaton went on a 23-10 run to take a 13-point lead (77-64) with 4:42 remaining. But the Panthers would not go quietly. The hosts surged back into the game, and pulled to within two points (78-76) with just under two minutes to play.
Plymouth State could get no closer the rest of the way. Wheaton was just 6-for-11 from the free throw line in the final two minutes, but managed to hold on for the win. PSC cut the lead to two points (85-83) with 10 seconds remaining, and after Wheaton hit a free throw with eight seconds on the clock, a PSC three-pointer that would’ve sent the game into overtime hit the rim and bounced away.
In addition to his game-high 32 points, Vega, who hit 13-of-26 from the field, added a team-high nine rebounds. Junior Scott Mahan (Bridgewater, Mass.) was the only other Lyon to score in double figures, finishing with 18 points.
The Panthers had a balanced scoring attack, with five players scoring between 10 and 15 points. Sophomore Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) led the way with 15 points, while senior Kenny Stewart (Londonderry, N.H.) added 14 points and sophomore Anthony Oglesby (Brooklyn, N.Y.) contributed 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Freshman Kevin Boutilier (Andover, Mass.) and junior Mike Loughlin (Manchester, N.H.) each chipped in with 10 points.