PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The No. 17 Eastern Connecticut State University could not match its 52-point home victory over Plymouth State University of seven weeks ago, but the Warriors had enough to avoid a third loss on the Panthers' home floor in the last four years and post its eighth straight victory, an 85-73 Little East Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium.
With its seventh conference win during its eight-game run, Eastern (17-2, 9-0 LEC) remains a game in front in the race for a fifth straight LEC regular-season championships. Plymouth (6-12, 0-9 LEC) lost for the seventh time in eight home games after dropping its seventh straight overall.
Ranked first in the LEC in scoring (81.8) and defense (67.3) and tenth nationally in margin (14.9), Eastern erased a six-point first-half deficit by moving out to a double-digit lead late in the first half and holding a ten-point, 46-36 halftime lead.
An opening 19-5 scoring run ballooned the lead to a game-high 24 points, 65-41, seven minutes into the second half. While sophomore guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) and freshman guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) were combining for Eastern's first 13 points of the second half during that scoring run, the hosts were missing seven of nine shots from the floor and turning the ball over four times.
In the second half, Gonzalez had ten of his team-high 16 points, senior forward Tarchee Brown (Rockville) ten of his 15 points and Muckle nine of his 12 points. Junior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) contributed his second double-double of the year with 14 points and a game and career-high 15 rebounds. Those four players combined to sink 19 of 33 field goals in the second half. Eastern shot 51.8 percent in the game and turned the ball over only 11 times.
Plymouth got a game-high 38 points from 6-foot-8 inch junior forward Mike Osgood, who was 12-of-16 from the floor (4-of-5 from distance) and 10-of-13 from the foul line. Sophomore guard Jaylen Leroy – the LEC's leading scorer at 24.4 points per game – was Plymouth's other double-figure scorer, with 18 points. The duo totaled 29 of their team's 37 second-half points and 56 of their final game total.
Senior guard Collin Sullivan was unable to score in 37 minutes for Plymouth but contributed eight assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Eastern hosts Trinity College Wednesday at 7 p.m. before closing out the regular season with four straight conference contests.