GORHAM, Maine – The Keene State College men's basketball team used a late 7-0 surge to recover after watching a double-digit lead vanish, as they beat the University of Southern Maine 77-74 in Little East Conference action at Hill Gym on Saturday afternoon.
- Keene State: 14-5, 8-1 LEC
- Southern Maine: 2-17, 1-8 LEC
How It Happened
Ty Nichols made 8-of-11 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the free throw line, scoring 27 points to lead the Owls. He added a team-high seven rebounds, six assists and one steal. Dizel Wright had 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals, while James Anozie had 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Christian McCue poured in a game-high 36 points for Southern Maine. He made 11-of-20 from the floor and 5-of-10 from three-point range while adding two steals, one rebound, one assist and one block. DJ Anderson was the only other double-figure scorer for the Huskies, as he recorded 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal. Sean Jany had a game-high eight rebounds, four points, three steals and a block for USM, which scored 12 points over their season average but fell to 0-6 at home.
It was a 6-5 game early on, but Keene State assumed control by scoring the next nine points. Two layups from Wright and a triple from Nichols speared the surge that gave the Owls a 15-5 lead at the 15:40 mark. Southern Maine answered, getting deep shots from Cam Scott and McCue to draw within 17-13. The Huskies' run continued, as Keenan Hendricks made a trey of his own that trimmed the deficit to 22-20 halfway through the half. Two inside buckets from Anozie sandwiched around one from Nichols quickly powered the KSC lead back up to 28-20 just a few minutes later. A trey from DeVon Beasley gave the Owls a nine point lead (31-22) at the 6:15 mark, but Southern Maine refused to go away, getting a basket and free throw from McCue to cap an 8-0 run that made it 31-30 with 3:40 left in the half. Another Beasley triple and, later, an old fashioned three-point play from Nichols highlighted KSC's own 8-0 surge that made it 39-30 with less than a minute to go in the half. The Owls took a 39-32 lead into the break.
The second half played out much like the first, as Keene State led for the majority of it, but Southern Maine continually answered. Another bucket and foul shot for Nichols a little over two minutes into the stanza provided the Owls a 44-35 lead. KSC continued to use the free throw line to their advantage, getting ones from Nichols and Miguel Prieto to claim a double-digit lead (48-37) at the 16:24 mark. Prieto's jumper shortly after gave the Owls their largest lead of the game at 50-37. The Huskies hit back, using the long ball to key an 11-1 run. Kevin Weisser's triple capped the surge as USM drew within 51-48 at the 13:17 mark. Wright scored five straight points to give Keene State breathing room again, and after Ben Olson made a layup, the Owls led 62-53 with 9:49 to go. A few minutes later, McCue hit jumpers on successive possessions and Southern Maine was back within one possession again at 62-59. Wright's free throw at the 6:46 mark still kept KSC up three, but Anderson canned two free throws and then a layup that gave the Huskies a 66-65 lead, their first since 3-2 in the first half, with 5:29 to go. The teams briefly exchanged leads, but the Owls sped up the tempo and got two layups from Wright to go back in front 71-68 with less than three minutes left. Nichols drained a key three with 1:20 left that put KSC up six (74-68) and the Owls made three of four free throws in the final minute to stave off the Huskies.
In the Paint
- Keene State improved to 4-0 in conference road games and is 7-3 overall on the road.
- The Owls shot over 50% for the eighth time this season, connecting on 27-of-50 from the floor (54%). KSC made 5-of-17 (29%) from deep and 18-of-27 (67%) from the free throw line. Southern Maine connected on 26-of-56 (46%) overall and, led by McCue, went 9-of-22 (41%) from three-point range. The Huskies made 13-of-18 (72%) from the charity stripe.
- Keene State assisted on 17 of their 27 made field goals and won the rebounding battle 32-27.
- The Owls remain in second place in the conference, one game behind Eastern Connecticut. The Warriors won 85-73 at Plymouth State today.
- Nichols is now 10 points away from passing Sean Sullivan for 10th on the all-time KSC scoring list.
- Keene State returns home to Spaulding Gym and will host No. 10 Middlebury College at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, January 30. It is their final non-conference game of the regular season.
- Southern Maine hosts Colby College on the same day at 7:30 pm.