KEENE, N.H.--Senior Jeff Lunn led a balanced attack with 18 points and eight rebounds as the Keene State College men's basketball team reached the semifinals of the Little East Conference tournament with an 87-70 win over the University of Southern Maine at Spaulding Gym on Tuesday night.
- Keene State: 18-8
- Southern Maine: 10-16
"We knew Leal was fourth in the league on scoring, and Starks hurt us when we went up there to play, so we knew we had to shut them down. We've won it on that floor twice in a row, and hopefully we can make it a third time." --Sophomore guard Ty Nichols
"Totally unselfish basketball tonight. We worked hard to get a good shot, and I think you could see that by the quality of shot that we got. I'm very proud of our guys, they've bought into the way we've needed to play when it comes to playoff basketball, and it only gets tougher from here." --Head coach Ryan Cain
How It Happened
Lunn scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, connecting on eight of 13 field goal attempts. Jaquel Edwards and Jake Collagan each poured in 17 points, with Ty Nichols adding 16 points, a career high 11 rebounds, six assists, and three steals, and Matt Ozzella had 11 points and seven boards.
The Huskies' James Starks III led all players with 26 points, but Jalen Lincoln was the only other USM player in double-figures with 12. Zach Leal, who came into the game averaging over 17 points per game, managed just seven on 1-for-4 shooting.
Keene State jumped out to an early 8-2 lead on the strength of three point shots from Edwards and Nichols. A 13-7 run for the Huskies, capped by consecutive baskets from Fred Knight tied the game at 15 with 12:19 to go, but Keene State responded with a 16-4 run over the next six minutes, taking a 31-19 lead on a pair of free throws by Nichols.
Nichols and Collagan drained threes on consecutive possessions for a 43-22 lead, and only Starks' three ahead of the halftime buzzer kept the Huskies within 16 points.
Lunn came out on fire in the second half, scoring the first eight points of the period for Keene State as the Owls outscored USM 13-4 over the first five minutes of the half. Keene State was never in trouble after that, going up 71-49 on two free throws from Lunn. Collagan sank a three with 2:35 left as the Owls built up an 87-60 lead before the Huskies scored the final 10 points of the game.
In the Paint
- The Owls, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, will play No. 3 seed UMass Dartmouth in the semifinals of the LEC tournament on Friday at Eastern Connecticut State's Geissler Gym. The teams split their season series this year, with both teams winning on the road. UMass Dartmouth beat No. 6 seed Rhode Island College 86-67.
- In other action around the LEC tournament, top seeded Eastern Conn. State reached the semis with a 106-62 win over No. 8 seed Western Conn. State, and fifth seeded UMass Boston upset No. 4 seed Plymouth State 61-57. The Warriors and Beacons will meet in the other semifinal.
- Collagan's 17 points represented a career high. It was also the fourth time Keene State hit 10 three pointers in a game.
- As mentioned, the Owls will play UMass Dartmouth in the semifinal at Eastern Connecticut State on Friday night. A game time will be announced on Wednesday.
- The Huskies season comes to an end.