KEENE, N.H. – The Keene State College men's basketball team rallied from a double-digit first half deficit to force a tie on two different occasions in the final 11 minutes, but could not complete the comeback as they fell to 6th-ranked Middlebury College 84-78 on Wednesday evening at Spaulding Gym.
- Keene State: 14-6
- No. 6 Middlebury: 16-3
How It Happened
Ty Nichols fell just one point shy of his career high, as he poured in 31 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the floor while adding eight assists, seven steals and six rebounds. It was his third 30-point game in January. James Anozie contributed 17 points and eight rebounds. Dizel Wright had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal. Miguel Prieto rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Middlebury was paced by Matt Folger's 22 points. He added five assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. Jack Daly fell just shy of a double-double, as he recorded 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds and four steals. Eric McCord had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench, while fellow reserve Adisa Majors chipped in 10 points and five rebounds for Panthers, who assisted on 24 of their 30 made field goals.
It was a back-and-forth affair early, as Wright and Prieto each made layups to help give KSC a 10-8 lead nearly four minutes into the contest. Middlebury answered by scoring six straight for a 14-10 advantage. The Owls got within 17-15 on an Anozie layup at the 12:02 mark, but the Panthers surged again, scoring ten consecutive points capped by a three from Griffin Kornaker to lead 27-15 with 9:18 left in the half. Another inside bucket from Anozie and a three from Nichols in quick succession trimmed KSC's deficit to five (30-25), but Middlebury again gained separation. A triple from Folger and, later, a layup from Daly gave the Panthers their largest lead at 40-27 with 3:31 left in the half. The Owls closed the half strong, going on an 11-4 burst. Prieto was fouled shooting a three and sank all three free throws and, on the next possession, Nichols converted a layup to make it 44-36. They each made a free throw in the final two minutes to send Keene State into the break trailing by six.
Middlebury kept the Owls at bay to start the second half, getting inside buckets from Nick Tarantino and Folger to lead 50-39 less than three minutes in. It was still 55-46 at the 14:46 mark, but KSC then embarked on a 15-6 surge over the next four minutes to tie the game at 61. Nichols was fouled making a layup and made the ensuing free throw to slice the deficit to five and, later, it was a triple and a layup from him that evened the score with 10:28 remaining. Middlebury scored the next five to reassume the lead, but two foul shots from Anozie and a trey from Nichols had KSC back even (66-66) at the 7:13 mark. It remained close from there, but KSC was never able to take the lead. A jumper from Nichols with 3:15 left had the Owls within 76-74, but McCord and Daly scored inside on consecutive possessions to give Middlebury a six-point advantage (80-74) with 2:32 to go. Wright drained a three and, after a Panthers' turnover, Anozie made one of two free throws to bring the Owls within one possession (80-78) with 1:18 on the clock. KSC got a stop on Middlebury's ensuing possession, but could not convert, and McCord was then fouled and sank both free throws for an 82-78 Panther lead. The Owls did not score on their next possession and Daly then sank two free throws for the final margin.
In the Paint
- Middlebury shot 52% (30-of-58) in the contest and Keene State 44% (28-of-63). Neither team converted much from three-point range, as the Panthers made 5-of-20 (25%) and the Owls 6-of-23 (26%). Middlebury was 19-of-23 from the free throw line (83%), including 15-of-18 in the second half. KSC was 16-of-22 (73%).
- The Panthers controlled the glass 41-28, helping lead to a 13-3 advantage in second chance points.
- Middlebury got 28 points from their reserves, while KSC got just one.
- The Owls played a nationally-ranked opponent for the second time this year. KSC fell to then-No. 22 Eastern Connecticut 70-64 on January 17.
- It was just Keene State's second home loss in their last 17 games at Spaulding Gym (15-2). Both losses came by a combined 12 points.
- Nichols moved into 10th on the all-time KSC scoring list, having scored 1,398 career points. He needs just 24 points to pass Derek D'Amours (1,418) and Nim Grandin (1,421) for eighth.
- Keene State will remain home to complete the regular season series with Rhode Island College on Saturday, February 3 at 3:00 pm. The Owls won the first matchup with the Anchormen 79-58 in Providence.
- Middlebury returns home and will entertain Bowdoin College in NESCAC action on Friday, February 2 at 7:00 pm.