KEENE, N.H.--Throughout the summer months, the Keene State College Department of Athletics and Recreation will be looking back at some of the top moments and milestones of the 2016-17 academic year.
At No. 2, we look back to when the men's basketball team reached the national quarterfinals for the second time in school history.
On February 25, the Keene State College men's basketball team didn't know where they stood. Coming off a tough, 72-70 loss to Eastern Connecticut State in the championship game of the Little East Conference tournament, the Owls would have to wait 48 hours to find out if their 19-9 record was good enough to merit an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.
The Owls were rewarded, however, with one of the precious at-large bids, and were sent on the road, playing perrenial power Amherst College at Ramapo College in northern New Jersey.
Facing Amherst, who had began the year as the No. 1 team in the country, the Owls were down early in the first half but took a lead into halftime when Ty Nichols knocked down a three ahead of the first half buzzer. Nichols proved to be the hero again, sinking a three with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to give Keene State a 69-66 victory.
Keene State was paired up with No. 5 Ramapo in the round of 32, and found themselves down 51-40 with 13:44 to play before embarking on a 27-5 run over the next three minutes to take a 57-56 lead. Jaquel Edwards' jumper with .02 seconds left forced overtime, and Jake Collagan drained the go-ahead three pointer with 48 seconds left to give the Owls the lead for good.
Back in the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, Keene State locked horned with a familiar opponent, No. 2 Christopher Newport University. The Captains had eliminated Keene State at this stage in 2016, and led 45-33 early in the second half. The Owls slowly chipped away, taking advantage of sterling free throw shooting of their own (29-35) and a poor performance at the stripe by CNU, who made just nine of 23 free throws. Jeff Lunn's layup with 1:12 left gave the Owls the lead for good, sending them into the national quarterfinals for the first time in 13 years.
Keene State then matched up with No. 3 Babson College for a trip to the Final Four, and the Owls stayed with the Beavers throughout the first half before the eventual national champions pulled away with 63% shooting in the second half.