NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University men's basketball team did their best Dr. Jekyle and Mr. Hyde impersonation on the court on Thursday evening with two completely different halves of basketball in the team's season home opener. The result was an 81-70 loss to Plymouth State University in non-conference action in Andrews Hall Gymnasium.
Plymouth St. (2-1) hit on four of their first six shot attempts while Norwich failed to connect on any of its field-goal tries in a 9-0 run to open the game for the visitors.
Junior forward Kyle Booth (Northfield, Vt.) go the home siders on the board with a jumper at the 17:12 mark of the opening half. Junior guard Jesse Davis made a layup to cut the lead to 9-4 but that would be as close as the Cadets would get for the remainder of the game.
The Panthers proceeded to go on a 13-0 run over the following seven minutes to build a sizeable 22-4 lead. The deficit ballooned to 28 points by the at the 2:06 mark of the first stanza following a layup by Jaylen LeRoy to make it 43-15. A layup by senior forward Josh Dumay (Framingham, Mass.) and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by senior forward Dan Bertrand (Saugus, Mass.) cut the lead to 45-21 entering the break.
PSU scorched the nets by shooting 48.7 percent in the opening half, while Norwich shot a not-so-hot 26.7 percent from the field. LeRoy proved to be unstoppable in the first half netting 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting. The Cadets were led by Davis' 10 points.
The final minutes of the opening half in which the Cadets were able to score five points late proved to be a harbinger of what to expect in the second half.
A three-pointer by PSUs Dante Rivera opened the half but sophomore forward Donovan Lewis Jr. (Savannah, Ga.) answered back emphatically as he sprinted down court off the Panther make and found himself all alone for a fast break dunk. The big lineup for the Cadets of 6-3 Lewis and 6-4 freshman forward Jaydon Cousin (Savannah, Ga.) proved to be a spark plug for the hosts. The pair worked hard posting up their man and crashed the offensive glass creating multiple second-chance opportunities. The Panthers were often forced to foul once those two established position down low.
After just eight first-half free throws, the Cadets were rewarded with 18 opportunities at the charity stripe in the second half. That, combined with a much-improved percentage on its shots from beyond the arc, helped the hosts cut the deficit to eight points at 72-64 with 3:23 remaining in the game following a pair of made free throws by Cousin. Norwich ended up outscoring the Panthers 49-36 in the second half.
Unfortunately, the Cadets ran out of time on the clock and slipped to 0-2 to start the season.
Lewis led the starters with his first double-double of the season registering 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Caleb Casinas (Aiea, Hawaii) also hit double-figures with 10 points. Davis notched a team-high 20 points while hitting three three-pointers off the bench. Fellow reserve Cousin popped off the bench for his first career double-double with 18 points and 11 boards. Freshman guard Dale Green (Jacksonville, Fla.) notched a team-high four assists.
Norwich will remain at home for its next non-conference contest this Saturday when it hosts Rivier at 1 p.m.