KEENE, N.H. – The Keene State College men's basketball team was unable to hold on to an early double-digit advantage, falling to No. 22 Eastern Connecticut State University 70-64 in Little East Conference action on Wednesday evening at Spaulding Gym.
- Keene State: 11-5, 5-1 LEC
- No. 22 Eastern Connecticut: 14-2, 6-0 LEC
How It Happened
Dizel Wright led the Owls with 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal. Ty Nichols added a 16 point, 12 rebound double-double to go along with five assists and five steals, while James Anozie had ten points and six rebounds.
Eastern Connecticut was led by Kendall Marquez's 15 points. Carlos Gonzalez had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Collin Jordan added 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Tarchee Brown had nine points, well below his season average of 20.9 per game, a team-high 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
The Warriors used a three from Marquez and a layup from Gonzalez to take a 5-2 lead within the first two minutes of the contest. The Owls roared to life after that, going on an extended 18-2 run over the next seven minutes to take a 20-7 advantage. Wright's traditional three point play put the Owls up 14-7 and, later, Haywood and Nichols canned threes to extend the surge. The Warriors got a triple from Donny Craig to halt the Owls for the moment, but a three with 10:11 to go in the half from Wright put the Owls up 25-10. A layup from Nichols and two free throws from Ben Olson gave Keene State their largest lead of the game (29-12) with 7:42 to go in the first. The Warriors chipped away over the remainder of the half, getting deep shots from Cory Muckle and Brown to make it 31-20 with 4:53 left. KSC got a triple of their own from Beasley that restored the lead to 14, but the Warriors used a 10-2 run to get within 36-30 at the 1:25 mark. The Owls took a 38-31 lead into the break, having made 5-of-12 attempts from three and all five of their free throws in the half.
ECSU quickly closed the gap to begin the second half, getting two triples from Marquez to reduce the lead to one (40-39) with 18:33 to go. Layups from Diallo and Prieto a few minutes later restored the lead to five, but Muckle made another three to keep the Warriors within one possession (44-42). The scoring slowed down considerably from there. Wright's layup with 14:02 to go put KSC up 47-44, but a basket and free throw from Leonel Hyatt tied the game at 47. It was close for the remainder of the contest from there. Another bucket inside from Wright put KSC up 53-49 at the 9:28 mark, but the Warriors again had an answer through a Jordan three. Eastern took their first lead since early in the first half (57-55) on Brown's layup with 7:36 to go and the Owls never led after that despite several chances. Two free throws from Wright tied the game at 59 with 5:42 left, but a triple from Gonzalez put the Warriors right back up three again.
Nichols' two free throws cut the deficit to one, and after a missed three by Eastern, the Owls had a chance to retake the lead, but missed both three-point tries on the ensuing possession. Nichols tied the game at 62 after making one of two free throws with 3:42 to go, but Marquez answered by doing the same. Olson made one of two from the line to tie it once more (63-63) with 2:44 left and, after a miss from Eastern, the Owls had another chance to take the lead. However, they turned the ball over and then Marquez made all three free throws after he was fouled shooting a three to give the Warriors a 66-63 lead with 1:34 left. Keene State misfired on a triple on the next possession and ECSU got a layup from McCarthy to go up two possessions (68-63) with just over a minute left. The Owls got a free throw from Prieto with just 14 seconds on the clock, but could not get any closer.
In the Paint
- It was a matchup of two teams who entered the night at 5-0 in the conference, having won each of their games by double figures.
- Keene State made 41% (22-of-54) of their shots from the field and 5-of-16 (31%) from three, while Eastern Connecticut connected on 36% (24-of-66) overall and 11-of-31 (36%) from deep. The Owls made 15-of-21 (71%) from the line and the Warriors 11-of-19 (58%).
- Keene State won the battle of the boards 44-39, but were outrebounded 11-7 on the offensive glass.
- The Owls committed 17 turnovers in the game and the Warriors just 12. KSC had 10 of those turnovers after halftime, while the Warriors had just two.
- ECSU got 25 points from their bench, while Keene State got just 11.
- It was the first meeting between the two teams since last year's Little East Conference Tournament championship game. The Warriors prevailed 72-70 in Willimantic, though both teams ended up making last year's NCAA Tournament.
- Keene State will travel to UMass Boston to take on the Beacons for the second time this season. The game is scheduled for Saturday, January 20 at 3:30 pm.
- Eastern Connecticut returns home and will host Rhode Island College on the same day at 3:00 pm.