PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Anthony Charbatji (Attleboro, Mass.) scored a team-high 17 points and sophomore Jim Bayne (Bristol, Conn.) hit the game-winning shot with 15 seconds remaining Wednesday night as seventh-seeded Western New England College upset second-seeded Plymouth State University, 70-68, in the opening round of the ECAC Division III New England Men’s Basketball Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
The Bears improve to 18-9 overall, and advance to the ECAC semifinals at third-seeded Wheaton College. The Lyons knocked off sixth-seeded Emerson College on Wednesday, 91-63. The dates of the semifinals and championship game will be announced on Thursday.
WNEC also got 14 points apiece from sophomore Malik Champlain (Norwich, Conn.) and junior Jon Godbout (Bristol, Conn.), and a 13-point, 10-rebound performance from Bayne.
Plymouth State was led by senior Nick Pelotte (Bingham, Maine), who finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Pelotte became PSU’s second all-time leading scorer, finishing his career with 2,111 points and going past Adam DeChristopher, who scored 2,090 from 1995-99. Pelotte scored more than 30 points for the seventh time in his last nine games.
The Panthers also got 12 points from sophomore Mike Walcek (Dover, N.H.) and 12 rebounds off the bench from junior Charles Gaddy (Hartford, Conn.) PSU played without sophomore Andreas Pope (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who is recovering from an injury suffered in last weekend’s Little East Conference Tournament.
The visitors’ defense held the Panthers to a 42.4 shooting percentage, eight points below their season average, and 68 points, 22 points below their average.
It was a close game the whole way. Neither team led by more than four points in the opening 20 minutes until PSU scored the final five points of the half to take a 37-30 lead into the locker room. Pelotte hit a pair of three-pointers to open the second half and give the hosts a 13-point margin.
WNEC wouldn’t go quietly, though, and went on a 16-5 run to close the gap to two points (48-46) with 13 minutes remaining. PSU maintained the lead until WNEC tied it up at 62-all with six minutes left. It was 66-apiece with a little more than a minute remaining, when Gaddy and Champlain exchanged baskets, setting up Bayne’s winning jumper with 15 seconds on the clock. PSU had a couple of chances to tie it in the closing ticks, but couldn’t manage the tying basket.
PSU, which has made post-season appearances the past four years and eight of the last 10, completes the season with a 19-10 record.
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