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.
- Keene State: 19-9
- Eastern Conn. State: 20-8
How it Happened
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.
- 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.