Lyndonville, VT - The Northern Vermont University-Lyndon men's basketball team rallied from a nine point first half deficit to defeat Plymouth State University, 93-86, on Saturday afternoon. The win was Lyndon's first over Plymouth since 2012 and broke a string of five straight Panther wins in the series. The Hornets improve to 2-2 on the season, while the Panthers fall to 3-2.
Both teams were clicking on offense in the early going. With Plymouth holding an early 7-6 lead, the Hornets' Ricky Shuford (Prattville, AL) drained a three-pointer to ignite a 9-3 run and give the Hornets a 15-10 advantage. Plymouth battled back to tie things at 19-19 on Dante Rivera's layup with 11:54 to go in the opening half. The Panthers found themselves in the middle of a 13-0 run, culminating with a Chris McCarthy jumper that put Plymouth in front, 28-19, at the 10:22 mark.
A pair of Kevin Love (Bristol, CT) baskets broke the run as Lyndon began to chip away at the lead. When Damon Denteh (Jamaica, NY) came up with a steal and found Jahleel Gabriel (Springfield, MA) for a layup, Lyndon regained the lead at 39-38 with 1:55 left in the half. Many Scnchez put Plymouth back in front, and Plymouth was able to hold on for a 44-43 advantage at the halftime break.
Shuford connected on a three on the first possession of the second half to put the Hornets back in front, but Jaylen LeRoy answered for the Panthers. Layups by Shuford and Love gave the lead back to Lyndon, but back to back baskets from LeRoy gave Plymoyuth the lead as the two teams went back and forth. Lyndon then went on a 12-4 run, featuring six Zach Falkenburg (Kirkville, NY) free throws, to open up a little breathing room at 62-55 with 12:32 to go.
Plymouth responded with eight straight points, topped by a LeRoy three, to put the Panthers back in front. Lyndon's Corey Frost (Hamden, CT) answered with a three on the next possession and the Hornets would not trail again.
LeRoy's putback and free throw brought Plymouth back within two at 84-82 with 3:34 to go, but a pair of Gabriel free throws extended the lead back to four. Following a Frost free throw, Simpson converted a pull up jumper to make it 87-84 with 56 seconds remaining. Two Love free throws made it a five point game. Lyndon then got a defensive stop on the next Panther possession, but a steal by Sopie Pak and a layup from Manny Alisandro made it a three-point game with ten seconds to go. Plymouth then fouled Denteh, who made the first free throw. Love then tipped in a missed second shot to make it a six point game. Following a missed Plymouth three Falkenburg connected on a free throw to account for the final margin.
Love converted ten of 13 shots on the way to a game high 26 points, leading Lyndon. He also pulled down 13 rebounds. Shuford added 18 and Frost chipped in with 17. Falkenburg and Gabriel also reached double figures with 13 and ten respectively, while Denteh dished out a team best nine assists and recorded four steals. LeRoy led the Panthers with 21 points, while Simpson added 20 points and nine assists.
The Hornets will return to action next Saturday and Sunday at the Sig Makofski Invitational Tournament at Union College. Lyndon will face the hosts in the second semi-final at 4:00 pm next Saturday. Castleton University and Westfield State University meet in the first semi at 2:00 pm. The championship and consolation games will be played the following day.