PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Tony Peluso (Southbury, Conn.) hit a three-point basket with less than a second remaining Saturday afternoon to lift Western Connecticut State University over Plymouth State University, 84-81, in the Little East Conference men’s basketball opener for both schools at Foley Gymnasium.
Plymouth State battled from behind the entire second half, trailing by as many as 11 points (62-51) with 14 minutes remaining, until junior Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) drained a game-tying jumper with 17 seconds left on the clock to make it 81-81. After a timeout, the Colonials ran the clock down and Peluso make the key three-pointer with a half-second remaining, and PSU’s inbounds pass was knocked away.
Freshman guard Tyshawn Gillespie (Hartford, Conn.) led the Colonials for the game, making 9-of-13 shots and finishing with 21 points, four assists and six steals. Junior Jamie Procino (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) contributed 18 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Carlos Pellot (Carmel, N.Y.) added 10 points and six boards.
Plymouth State had four players reach double figures in scoring. Ruocco led the team with 18 points, while freshman Jason O’Keefe (Everett, Mass.) hit 4-of-5 from three-point range and finished with a season-high 16 points. Freshman Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) continued his hot hand, converting 6-of-8 shots for a 13-point effort along with a team-leading seven rebounds, and sophomore Ben Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.) chipped in with 12 points.
It was a close game for the first 20 minutes, as the teams stayed within five points of each other and WestConn holding a one-point margin (39-38) at the break. The Colonials started to pull away in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 23-13 over the first five minutes to take the 11-point advantage. PSU whittled away at the deficit with a 15-6 spurt, and stayed within striking distance until Ruocco tied it up with 17 seconds remaining.
PSU, 4-2 overall, is home again on Tuesday for a non-conference game against Rivier (6:00 p.m.) WestConn, 4-1, returns home to host Manhattanville on Monday (7:00 p.m.)
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