PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Reece Freeman (Cambridge, Mass.) hit a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining Saturday afternoon to lead the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to a 71-69 come-from-behind victory over Plymouth State University in Little East Conference men’s basketball action at Foley Gymnasium.
UMD overcame an eight-point second half deficit, and led by three points (69-66) when Freeman made a bucket with 16 seconds remaining in the game. PSU evened the score at 69-69 as sophomore Ben Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.) hit an off-balance three-pointer with just under 10 seconds on the clock, but Freeman was fouled as he raced up the court, setting up the winning free throws. PSU had one last chance at the buzzer, but a potential game-winning shot bounced out.
The Corsairs, who improved to 11-10 overall and 6-4 in LEC play, stayed alive for a chance at home-court advantage in the first round of the LEC Tournament. PSU suffered its fifth straight loss and fell to 8-13 overall and 1-9 in conference play.
Senior Stephane Abelard (Brockton, Mass.) led all players with 20 points and nine rebounds for the Corsairs, hitting 9-of-13 from the field. Freeman finished with 15 points and junior A.J. Tavares (New Bedford, Mass.) added 13. Senior Paul Pawlowski (Taunton, Mass.) ended up with nine points in the game, and went over the 1,000-point milestone for his career midway through the first half.
The Panthers had four players score in double figures. Senior Devin Ruocco (Dover, N.H.) was 7-for-8 from the field and finished with a team-high 16 points. Freshman Jason O’Keefe (Everett, Mass.) contributed 12 points, and Huntington and freshman Mike Chergey (Bow, N.H.) added 11 apiece.
Plymouth State maintained the advantage most of the opening half, leading by as many as 13 points (24-11) with 10 minutes on the clock. UMD whittled away at the deficit, pulling to within five points (37-32) at the intermission.
UMD pulled even at 46-all six minutes into the second half, but PSU got the lead back up to eight points (58-50) with nine minutes remaining. The Corsairs went on a 17-6 run over the next seven minutes, setting up the dramatic finish.
PSU is home again on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against the University of Southern Maine, while UMD returns home to host rival UMass Boston in an LEC affair Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s annual “Spirit Night” event at Foley Gymnasium will include entertainment by “Lucky,” the official mascot of the Boston Celtics.
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