PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Devon Maiorano (Rehoboth, Mass.) connected on 9-of-11 shots from three-point range Tuesday night, finishing with a game-high 29 points to lead fifth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to a 98-69 victory over fourth-seeded Plymouth State University in the first round of the Little East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
The win propels the Corsairs, 15-11 overall, into the tournament semifinals, where they will face top-seeded and regular-season champion Keene State Friday evening in Keene, N.H. The Owls advanced Tuesday with a 79-59 win over eighth-seeded University of Southern Maine.
Maiorano warmed up in the first 20 minutes, making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc to end the half with 11 points. He was very hot in the second half, draining 6-of-7 from long range. Maiorano was one of five Corsairs to score in double figures, as junior Stephane Abelard (Brockton, Mass.) tossed in 16 points (of 7-of-10 shooting) and seven assists, junior Dan Holbrook (Lexington, Mass.) and sophomore A.J. Tavares (New Bedford, Mass.) added 12 points apiece, and junior Paul Pawlowski (Taunton, Mass.) chipped in with 11.
Senior Brandon Boggs (Strafford, N.H.) led the Panthers with a career-high 21 points, as he converted 9-of-14 from the floor, 3-of-5 from three-point range. Senior Kevin Boutilier (North Andover, Mass.) was the only other Panther to score in double figures, finishing with 15 points (on 6-of-10 shooting).
It was a close game most of the first half until UMD went on a late run to take an 11-point lead. Only a PSU basket at the buzzer pulled the home team to within nine points (44-35) at the break.
The second half was all Maiorano and the Corsairs. UMD quickly pushed the lead up to 15 points (54-29) and pulled away to a 21-point margin (70-49) with eight minutes to play.
The Corsairs won going away, shooting 65.5 percent in the second half and 64.9 percent for the game. PSU hit at a 59 percent clip in the first half, but made only 39 percent after the break. The visitors also had a 37-22 advantage on the boards.
PSU, which had lost in the LEC Championship game the past three years, drops to 16-10 on the season. The Panthers hope for their fifth straight post-season berth when the ECAC New England Tournament field is announced next Monday.
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