KEENE, N.H. – Senior guard David Sontag (Mont Vernon, N.H.) scored a season-high 25 points Tuesday night, hitting 11 of 12 free throws, to lead the second seeded Keene State College men’s basketball team to a 98-86 Little East Conference Tournament quarterfinal victory over rival and seventh seed Plymouth State University at Spaulding Gymnasium.
Winners of five straight, Keene State (22-4) will face sixth-seeded UMass Boston Friday in a semifinal game at top-seeded Rhode Island College. UMB upset third seed Western Connecticut, 88-82.
Nate Anderson (Westminster, Mass.), Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, Vt.) and Travon Little (Danbury, Conn.) finished with 13 points each for the Owls. Anderson and Kathan had a team high seven rebounds.
Panther senior Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) recorded 20 points and seven rebounds to lead the Panthers, while freshman Jason O’Keefe (Everett, Mass.) added 17 points. Senior Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) scored 14 points in his final game, and freshman Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) chipped in with 10.
The Panthers, who controlled play most of the first half, took a seven-point lead (29-22) with 5:55 to play. A 12-2 Owl run gave KSC a 34-31 lead with 2:10 to play, and the home team held on for a 44-37 halftime lead.
Little brought the KSC fans to their feet early in the second half with an alley-opp dunk from Sontag. Little was fouled on the play and also hit the free throw. KSC pulled away from there, extending the lead to 67-53 with 10:32 to play.
The upset-minded Panthers put together a 7-0 run to cut the Owls lead to seven points (72-65) with 7:02 to go, but that’s as close as PSU could get.
KSC won all three games against the Panthers this season.
Plymouth State completes its season with a 10-16 overall record, ending a string of 13 consecutive winning campaigns. PSU’s last sub-.500 season was a 12-13 mark in 1992-93 under coach Paul Hogan.
Ruocco, who scored only 180 points his first three years combined, led the team in scoring this season with 413 points (15.9 avg.). Walcek, who averaged more than 13 points a game the past two seasons, finishes his career with 932 career points.
(Courtesy of Keene State Sports Information)
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