PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island College men¹s basketball team improved its record to 16-5 overall and 8-2 in the Little East Conference Saturday afternoon with a 90-84 win over Plymouth State University at The Murray Center. The Panthers fall to 5-16 overall and 1-9 in league play.
The victory sets up an LEC showdown with No. 2 UMass Dartmouth (20-1, 9-1) on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in North Dartmouth, Mass. The Corsairs suffered their first loss of the season Saturday in overtime at Keene State.
Junior forward Kaseem Johnson (New Haven, Conn.) recorded 21 points and 12 boards to earn his seventh double-double of the year for RIC. Junior center Wil Lyons (Warwick, R.I.) was another force in the paint, concluding the contest with a team-high 25 points and eight boards. Junior Bobby Bailey (Fall River, Mass.) was dominant defensively, logging six steals and six rebounds to go along with 12 points.
Sophomore guard Jason O¹Keefe (Everett, Mass.) finished with a game-high 26 points for Plymouth State, while senior Chris Wilkinson (Newmarket, N.H.) and junior Ben Huntington (Hampstead, NH) contributed 19 and 18 points, respectively.
The Anchormen blitzed the Panthers in the first half, opening up an early 12-point advantage, 19-7. RIC kept the pressure up for the entire frame, forcing 11 turnovers to build a nine-point, 48-39, lead at halftime.
The Panthers methodically whittled away their deficit to just one-point, 58-57, with 10:37 left in the game. O¹Keefe, on two three-pointers, and Wilkinson keyed the comeback with six points apiece. The Anchormen were undaunted, embarking a 14-0, five-minute run, to build a 72-57 advantage with 5:36 left on the clock.
RIC led by 11, 82-71, with 1:07 remaining before the pesky Panthers forced two turnovers and converted on six consecutive possessions to cut the lead to a precarious two points, 86-84, with six seconds left. O¹Keefe paced the run with eight points. The hosts sealed their eighth conference win on two free throws apiece by Lyons and junior guard Cameron Stewart (Newport, R.I.)
Plymouth State returns home to host Keene State on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
(Courtesy of Rhode Island College Sports Information)
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