DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Plymouth State's Uche Nwokeji (Lynn, Mass.) registered a 25-point, 16-rebound double-double on Saturday to lead the Panthers to a Little East Conference opening victory over the home UMass Dartmouth Corsairs, 81-75.
The Panthers were perfect from the free throw line in the second half, making 12-of-12 attempts, including two from Nwokeji and two from Brian Boulay (Keene, N.H.) within the last 30 seconds of play to seal the game.
The Corsairs held the lead for much of the contest, including nearly every minute of the first half. Senior Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.) was true to form, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the first stanza while contributing five assists. UMD entered the break with a 41-35 lead after outshooting Plymouth State on 16-of-35 from the field.
UMD then led by as much as eight to begin the second half until the Panthers took their first lead of the second stanza with 3:26 remaining on a huge three-pointer from junior Curtis Arsenault (Berlin, N.H.). A free throw from Tom Keyes (Fall River, Mass.) and responding three from Rezendes brought UMD back within two at the 1:26 mark, until Boulay took to the charity stripe to increase the PSU margin back to four.
Rezendes and the Corsairs were not able to convert despite sending up four tries in the final 30 seconds. Boulay then converted again as time expired.
Freshman Nick Portelance (Fairhaven, Mass.) posted another strong night in the post, scoring 13 points with seven boards. Junior Jahleel Moise (Brockton, Mass.) led all players with three huge blocks on the night, while offensively contributing 10 points. Classmate Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) led the squad in rebounding, snagging a season-best 10 on the game.
For Plymouth State, Arsenault finished with 19 points, including nine in the second half, and seven rebounds, while Jack Preston (Nashua, N.H.) buried 16 points.
Both point guards put up notable assist numbers, with Rezendes dishing out a game-high nine helpers and Boulay posting seven.
UMass Dartmouth will look to improve upon its 2-2 record on Tuesday as they meet Husson at 7 p.m. at home. The 4-0 Panthers will play their first home contest on Tuesday, welcoming Castleton at 7:30.