PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Juniors Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) combined for 50 points and 16 rebounds Thursday evening and Plymouth State University held off Salem State College, 73-70, in a non-conference men’s basketball game at Foley Gymnasium.
Pope matched his career high with 30 points along with nine rebounds, while Walcek tossed in a career-high 20 points while collecting seven boards. Senior Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) scored six points while grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds. Pope also increased his career total to 996 points.
Junior Eric Downie (Medford, Mass.) had a strong game for the Vikings, scoring 27 points and collecting eight rebounds. Sophomore Alex Finn (Ashby, Mass.) contributed 15 points, and freshman Dylan Holmes (Groton, Mass.) added 12 points and nine boards.
Plymouth State enjoyed the advantage the entire first half, leading by as much as 17 points before settling for a 15-point margin (36-21) at the break. PSU had a 19-point lead three minutes into the second half, and led by 13 points (52-39) with 12 minutes remaining before the Vikings staged a huge rally.
Salem State went on a 19-5 burst over the next five minutes, taking its first lead of the day (58-57) with five minutes to play. The teams traded baskets down the stretch, and PSU took the lead for good (67-65) on a three-pointer by Walcek with 1:37 to play. The Panthers also made eight straight free throws in the last two minutes to preserve the win and stay unbeaten on the young season (4-0).
PSU had a free throw advantage all night, finishing 26-of-35 from the line while Salem State was 6-of-13 en route to falling to 1-4.
The Panthers open Little East Conference play this Saturday at defending champion Western Connecticut (3:00 p.m.) in the first game since the memorable LEC title game last February. The two schools tied for third in this year’s LEC preseason coaches’ poll.
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