MEDFORD, Mass. – Senior guard Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine) exploded for a career-high 40 points Tuesday night, including seven in overtime, to lift the visiting Plymouth State University Panthers to a thrilling 98-97 victory at Tufts University in non-conference men’s basketball action at Cousens Gym.
Tufts led 57-48 at the half and never trailed in the second half, maintaining a slim lead that only grew as large as eight points. The Panthers forged an 87-87 tie on a huge three-pointer by junior Mark Dunham (Salem, N.H.) with 50 seconds left in regulation. Tufts regained the lead at 89-87 on a lay-up by sophomore David Shepherd (Grantham, N.H.) with 32 seconds on the clock.
Pelotte was fouled with 16 seconds to go, hit the first to slice the margin to one (89-88), missed the second, but got his own rebound. Following a time-out, PSU sophomore Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was fouled and missed the first free throw, but hit the second to tie the score at 89-89 with nine seconds to go. Shepherd’s straight-away three-pointer at the buzzer was no good and the game went to overtime.
Neither team shot well in the OT period. The Jumbos took a 92-89 lead early, but Pelotte scored the next four points for a 93-92 Plymouth lead with 28 seconds left. Pope was fouled grabbing the rebound on a Tufts miss and hit two free throws at the other end for a 95-92 lead with 11 seconds to go. Another Tufts miss and foul put Pelotte at the line. He missed his second shot, leading to a Tufts lay-up by Shepherd that cut the Plymouth lead to 96-94 with three seconds remaining. After a Tufts time-out, Plymouth State in-bounded the ball to Pelotte, he was immediately fouled, and he hit both free throws with 1.3 seconds left to seal the win. Good thing he hit both, because Jumbo senior Drew Kaklamanos’ (Jupiter, Fla.) half-court shot at the buzzer went in for the 98-97 final.
Pelotte had 23 at the half, but Tufts closed the period with a 10-2 run to build its largest lead of the game at halftime. The Jumbos were looking for a measure of revenge after losing by 35 (91-56) to the Panthers in New Hampshire last season. They had more points at the half (57) than they scored in the entire game last year, but ultimately would not make their shots to pull out the win in the end.
Pelotte shot 12-of-21 overall, 4-of-6 from three-point territory and 12-of-18 from the line. He also finished with seven rebounds and four assists. Pope was a big second-man for the Panthers, recording 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Tufts had six players score in double-figures, led by 17 points from Kaklamanos. Sophomore Brian Kumf (Milford, Mass.) with 16 and 10, senior Reggie Stovell (Washington, D.C.) with 14 and 11, and junior Dan Martin (Sandwich, Mass.) with 11 and 10 all had double-doubles.
The teams shot the lights out in the first half, with Plymouth hitting 63 percent (17/27) and trailing by nine. Tufts was at 56.3 percent (18/32) and both squads had seven three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Both went downhill from there with neither finishing over 50 percent.
PSU, 4-3 overall, wraps up the first semester of competition this Saturday with a Little East Conference contest at UMass Dartmouth (3:00 p.m.). Tufts, 4-4, is right back in action Wednesday night at Suffolk (7:30 p.m.).
(Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information)
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