PLYMOUTH, NH – Junior guard Tyler Rowe (East Hartford, CT) tallied a team-high 18 points but it wasn't enough as the Western Connecticut State University men's basketball team was stunned at Little East Conference opponent Plymouth State, 66-63, on Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium. With the Colonials ahead 60-55 late in the contest, the Panthers rallied with a 9-0 spurt en route to their first conference win of the season.
With the loss, WestConn fell to 12-9 overall and 7-3 in league play, while Plymouth avenged a one-point loss suffered at the hands of the Colonials earlier this season, improving to 9-12 and 1-9. The Panthers connected on 19-of-25 shots from the charity stripe, while the Colonials managed just 7-of-14.
"We dug ourselves a huge hole again, clawed our way back. Then they outplayed us in the final four minutes. We need to execute better down the stretch," stated WestConn head coach Jason Harlow following the tough start to February.
Sophomore forward Fenton Bradley Jr. (Mansfield, CT) added 11 points and five rebounds for the visitors, while classmate guard Evan Curtin (Portland, CT) chipped in with eight points.
Junior forward Mike Osgood (Nashua, NH) led the Panthers with a double-double on game-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds, while sophomore Jaylen Leroy (Manchester, NH) and rookie Sam Bonney-Liles (Hudson, NH) chipped in with 16 points apiece, which included each of them notching a three-pointer during the late run.
The hosts raced out to an early 18-6 advantage after Leroy scurried in for a layup following a steal from senior guard Collin Sullivan (Plymouth, NH). However, the Colonials answered with a 15-4 run, cutting the lead to 22-21 when junior forward Jordan Grant (Norwich, CT) took a pass from Rowe for the easy bucket.
WestConn would take a 30-28 lead when Rowe hit a jumper 16 seconds before the break. Leroy then converted a pair of free throws, deadlocking the count at 30-30 at halftime.
The hosts began the second half with an 8-1 flurry. Bonney-Liles knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to make it 38-31. WestConn retaliated to even the score at 42-42 when Curtin nailed a trifecta before Bradley Jr. took a feed from junior Rashard Rodriguez (Trumbull, CT) and connected to put the Colonials on top, 44-43, midway through the second.
After a steal from Curtin, junior Aaron Samuel (Stratford, CT) drove the lane for a runner off the glass, extending WestConn's lead to 60-55 with 4:15 remaining.
Plymouth then struck back with the game-ending run. Leroy ignited the barrage with a three-pointer from the right wing before Bonney-Liles swished a corner shot from downtown off a kick-out feed. A pair of free throws would round out the run and give the hosts a 64-60 lead with 1:28 left on the clock.
WestConn would put together a last minute effort. Rowe took a pass from classmate Eli Rodriguez (Bristol, CT) and canned a trifecta to make it 64-63 with 30 seconds remaining. However, Leroy sank a pair from the line before the Colonials last second three-point attempt to tie missed the twine.
WestConn will look to get back on track when they meet visiting LEC foe Rhode Island College on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.