Men's Basketball Comes Up Short In Three-Peat Quest

Men's Basketball Comes Up Short In Three-Peat Quest

WILLIMANTIC, Conn.—The Keene State College men's basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion, 72-70, to Eastern Connecticut State University in the championship game of the Little East Conference tournament at Geissler Gym on Saturday afternoon.

Records:
  • Keene State: 19-9
  • Eastern Conn. State: 20-8
 

How it Happened

The Warriors finished the game on a 9-1 run, rallying from as many as 13 points down to secure their first tournament title since 2012.   Freshman Carlos Gonzales finished with a game high 30 points, and was joined in double-figures by Tyrell Arnum (13 points) and tournament Most Outstanding Player Hugh Lindo (12 points, 11 rebounds). 
 
Jeff Lunn led the Owls with 18 points and six boards, while Matt Ozzella had 15 points and nine rebounds.  Jake Collagan poured in 13 off the bench, and Ty Nichols added 11.
 
The Owls jumped out to an early 12-6 lead, as Nichols and Hammel drained a pair of early three pointers.  Collagan's three at the 10:43 mark increased the Owls' lead to 19-14, and when Lunn scored inside on back-to-back possessions, the Owls led 29-16 with 7:01 to go. 
 
Gonzalez, who finished 8-for-12 from the field, sank a pair of threes, the second of which came with 5:33 left in the first half, to cut the lead to five (32-27), but the Owls closed out the half on a 10-6 run as Lunn sank two free throws with 50 ticks on the clock for a 42-33 lead at the break.
 
Keene State maintained their dominance in the early stages of the second half, going up 54-41 on Ozzella's straight away three pointer with 12:32 left in the half.  The Warriors put together a rally, outscoring KSC 20-7 over the next three minutes to knot the score at 61.  The teams then traded baskets, before the Owls scored six straight points for a 69-63 lead with 3:53 left. 
 
Gonzalez took over, making three free throws, and after Lindo's layup cut the lead to one, Gonzalez scored down low for a 70-69 lead.  Jaquel Edwards tied the game at 70 with a free throw, but Gonzales' reverse layup with nine seconds to go proved to be the difference.
 
The Owls called time-out to set up one final shot, but Nichols' jumper glanced off the back rim and Lindo secured the rebound and the win.
 

In the Paint

  • Keene State was attempting to become the first school since UMass Dartmouth from 1993-95 to win three straight LEC tournament championships.
  • The Owls' road woes continued, as KSC is now just 4-8 in true road games.
  • The two point defeat was the closest margin in any game, win or loss, for Keene State this year.
Up Next
  • Keene State will need to wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.  Selections are announced on Monday at 12:30 pm on ncaa.com
  • Eastern Connecticut State receives the LEC automatic bid, and will also find out who where it will be playing on Monday.