WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Senior forwards Jacob Collins (Bristol) and Tarchee Brown (Rockville) each scored 14 points in the first half on a combined 10-of-11 shooting from the floor, and the top-seeded and defending champion Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team scored 17 points off 11 turnovers by eighth-seeded Plymouth State University over the first 20 minutes en route to a 107-67 victory in the first round of the 2018 Little East Conference Tournament Tuesday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
In Friday's semifinals at Eastern defending champion Eastern (23-3) faces No. 4 Western Connecticut (14-12) at 5:30 p.m. and No. 2 Keene State College (18-8) faces No. 3 UMass Boston (16-10) at 7:30 p.m. The tournament final is scheduled for Saturday at Eastern at 5 p.m. All three higher seeded advanced with Tuesday wins.
Ranked No. 10 nationally, Eastern shot 62.2 percent from the floor (10-of-19 from distance) in the first half in racing to a 29-point, 59-30 halftime lead. The Warriors, who lead the LEC in scoring (83.7) and defense (68.3), ballooned its lead to 52 midway through the second half, 93-41.
Senior guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic) led all players with 27 points, Brown following with 23 points (8-of-9 FG/4-of-4 three-pointers), four assists and six rebounds.Collins came off the bench for 18 points on 7-of-7 field goal shooting. Sophomore point guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) had 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals and senior guard Collin Jordan (Cheshire) came off the bench for four points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Leroy and junior forward Mike Osgood – ranked 1-2 in the LEC in scoring -- led Plymouth (10-16) with 22 and 16 points, respectively, but combined for only 12 on 5-of-15 field goal shooting in the first half.
Plymouth had defeated Eastern four of the first five times the teams had met in the LEC tournament, but the Warriors are 2-0 against Plymouth in the LEC playoffs at Geissler Gym. The teams were meeting for the first time in the tournament since the Warriors trimmed the Panthers, 59-58, at Geissler Gym in 2011.