'BENNINGTON, VT. 12/5/02 – The Keene State College men's basketball team survived its biggest test of the season on Thursday night when it held on to defeat Southern Vermont College 73-72 in a non-conference game in Bennington, VT.
KSC (5-0) had a seven-point lead (73-66) in the final minute of play after Derek Swenson (Attleboro, MA.), who finished with 17 points, hit two free throws with 55 seconds remaining.
But Southern Vermont (2-1) rallied behind Sean Ezell, who scored his team's final eight points. His last basket, following a KSC turnover, cut the Owls' lead to one point (73-72) with seven seconds to play.
The Owls made a long inbound pass to Bennett Pawlusiak (Bedford, N.H.), who was fouled with one second remaining. Pawlusiak intentionally missed the free throw to prevent Southern Vermont from getting a shot off.
"This was a big win against a good team," said KSC Coach Rob Colbert. "This is a team that could compete for the Little East Championship. They're that strong."
Southern Vermont, which opened the season with wins over Middlebury College (87-84) and New York University (86-84) are led by Ezell (23 points) and Cortney Denson (20 points), a pair of transfers from Division I Northern Illinois.
The Owls had to also overcome a partisan SVC crowd. "It seemed like they had the whole study body there," said Colbert. "The place was crazy."
Matt Wheeler (Shrub Oak, N.Y.) had a career night, scoring 20 points and pulling down eight rebounds. Chris Timson (Beverly, MA.) added nine points for KSC.
The Owls begin LEC play on Saturday when they travel to UMA-Boston for a 3 p.m. game.