KEENE, N.H.--The Keene State College men's basketball team celebrated Senior Day with an 80-64 win over Rhode Island College in Little East Conference action on Saturday at Spaulding Gym.
- Keene State: 17-8, 10-4 LEC
- Rhode Island College: 11-13, 5-9 LEC
- "Today meant a lot; we've been through a lot, from a rough freshman year to what we've accomplished the last two years. We've really grown, both as basketball players and as individuals. The last two years we've done a great job of pushing road woes aside; once again the road leads through East Conn. and I'm hoping we can do it one more time." -- Senior guard Lucas Hammel
- "I can't really put it into words. These guys play basketball the right way. The way they feel about each other, the way they practice, it's meant a lot to this program. They had a tough freshman year and have been fortunate to win two championships since then. Now we get to go and see if we can do it again." -- Head coach Ryan Cain
How It Happened
Matt Ozzella and Jaquel Edwards each scored 18 points, while Damonte Turner added a career high 14 points and Ty Nichols chipped in with 11. Jeff Lunn pulled down a game high 11 rebounds, and Ozzella grabbed 10 boards.
Justin Campbell scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds to top the Anchormen, who got 13 points from Chris Farrington and 10 from Malcolm Smith. RIC's three leading scorers, Benjamin Vezele, Domonique Bull, and Jovel Beckford, came in the game averaging a combined 31 points per game, but managed just seven between them, on 2-for-8 shooting. Beckford was held scoreless.
It was the Anchormen who got off to a fast start, opening up a 10-2 lead as Farrington and Smith knocked down three pointers in the opening four minutes. Keene State exploded for a 31-8 run over the next nine minutes, utilizing the three point shooting of Turner during that stretch to open up a huge lead.
Turner's first three of the game gave KSC a 13-12 lead with 11:39 left in the half, and the freshman drained two more as the Owl lead grew to 25-15. After Farrington had hit a three that cut the lead to 30-18, Turner sank his fourth of the period on the Owls' next possession for a 33-18 lead.
Ozzella swished a three of his own, then sank two free throws and Turner sliced through the lane for a layup before Roosevelt Shider sank a three that cut the lead to 44-31 at halftime.
The second half saw the Owls maintain their advantage in the early going, as Edwards converted a convention three point play that made it 56-43 with 14:48 left in the game. The Anchormen put together a rally, outscoring the Owls 13-2 over the next three minutes, making it a two point game on Vezele's three point play with 11:08 to go. Lucas Hammel sank a three on the next KSC posession to restore a five point lead, and KSC never looked back. Ozzella sank a free throw, then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and scored again to make it 70-58. Rodney Jean-Marie gave the Owls their biggest lead of the second half with a layup with 1:01 left in the game.
In the Paint
- Keene State will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming LEC tournament. It's the highest seed for the Owls since 2007, when the Owls were also the No. 2 seed. The 10 LEC wins are also the most since 2012, when KSC finished in a three way tie for second place.
- Eastern Connecticut State earned the No. 1 seed for the fourth consecutive year. The Warriors will have homecourt advantage as long as they remain alive in the LEC tournament.
- Ozzella went over 1,100 points for his career, and currently sits in 25th place on the all-time list. He needs just eight points to pass Wally Markham '67, who finished his career with 1,112.
- Before the game, seniors Ozzella, Jean-Marie, Hammel, Edwards and Jeff Lunn, as well as graduate student Nick Gagliolo and former player Matt Sherlock were honored for their contributions to the program. In the last four years, Keene State has won two LEC tournament titles and made two NCAA appearances.
- The LEC tournament begins on Tuesday with the quarterfinal rounds hosted by the top four seeds. The No. 2 seed Owls will host the No. 7 seed University of Southern Maine at 7:30 pm, while Anchormen will be the No. 6 seed and travel to No. 3 seed UMass-Dartmouth that same evening.