Owls Nipped By No. 10 Warriors, 83-78

Owls Nipped By No. 10 Warriors, 83-78
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – No. 10 Eastern Connecticut State University used a late surge to overtake the Keene State College men's basketball team 83-78 in a critical Little East Conference affair on Wednesday evening at Geissler Gymnasium.

Records

  • Keene State:  15-7, 9-2 LEC
  • No. 10 Eastern Connecticut:  20-2, 11-0 LEC

How It Happened

Miguel Prieto made 10-of-16 from the floor en route to a career-high 27 points.  He added four rebounds, four assists and a steal.  Ty Nichols had 16 points, six rebounds, six assists, five steals and a block, while Dizel Wright had 12 points, two rebounds, two steals and a block.  Sidi Diallo chipped in 11 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal for KSC, who fell to a nationally ranked team by six points or less for the third time this season.

Kendall Marquez made four threes and led Eastern with 24 points, four steals, three assists and two rebounds.  Jake Collagan also made four threes and contributed 22 points, two assists, two steals and a rebound, while Carlos Gonzalez had 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Eastern Connecticut got two early triples to propel them to a 6-5 advantage with less than two minutes gone, but Keene State took command from there.  The Owls got a layup and dunk from Wright and, after an ECSU turnover, a triple from Prieto to take an 18-7 lead at the 14:00 mark.  The Warriors hit back quickly, using the long ball to score eleven straight points and even the game at 18 just over two minutes later.  Keene State temporarily stopped the surge with five straight of their own for a 23-18 lead halfway through the half, but Eastern Connecticut had another big surge in them.  A layup from Gonzalez at the 7:16 mark put the Warriors up 27-25 and, later, it was his triple that gave ECSU a nine-point lead (34-25) with 5:40 left in the half.  Eastern's lead ballooned to as many as 15 (43-28), but the Owls scored six straight to close the half, including layups from Diallo and Prieto in the final minute, to trail 43-34 at the break.

Out of the locker room, the Warriors quickly restored the lead back to 15 at 49-34, but Keene State had a big answer, scoring 14 straight points capped by another trey from Prieto to draw within one (49-48) with 14:44 to go.  From there, it was a battle between the first and second place teams in the conference as Keene State would not go away.  Eastern got triples from Collagan and Marquez to lead 56-51 and, later, a traditional three point play from Collin Jordan had the Warriors back up nine (66-57) just over halfway through the second stanza. Keene State immediately rattled off a 9-0 burst to tie the game, capped by a jumper from Nichols with six minutes remaining.  ECSU got a three from Collagan, but Nichols answered that with one of his own and the Owls proceeded to score the next five, finished with a trey from Diallo to lead 74-69 with 3:55 left.  Eastern clamped down, though, and eventually retook the lead (75-74) on an inside bucket from Tarchee Brown with 1:43 left.  Keene State got within two (78-76) on a Prieto layup with just over a minute left and again, 80-78, on a bucket from Jordan Haywood with six seconds left.  The Warriors then made one of two at the line and fouled KSC before they could get a three off.  The Owls missed both free throws, fouled with a second left and Brown sank both free throws to seal the win.

In the Paint

  • Keene State shot a sizzling 55% (28-of-51) in the contest, but was undone by 22 turnovers and 17-of-32 (53%) shooting from the line.  The Owls also went just 5-for-16 from three (31%), while the Warriors connected on 12-of-26 (46%) from distance.  ECSU was also 21-of-30 (70%) from the charity stripe.
  • The Owls dominated the glass 41-26, but allowed 11 offensive rebounds.  Keene State also committed 22 turnovers, leading to 34 Warrior points.
  • Eastern Connecticut got 33 points from their reserves, while KSC got just 16 from their bench.
  • Keene State has lost three games in a row against Eastern Connecticut by a combined 13 points.  The Owls did beat the Warriors 99-92 in the first meeting between the two teams last season.
  • Nichols is now eighth on the all-time KSC scoring list, surpassing Nim Grandin and Derek D'Amours for that spot.  Next up is Jim Beckwith '61, whose 1,444 points are seven more than Nichols' 1,437.
  • Playoff Permutations: With the win, Eastern Connecticut has a two-game lead and owns the tiebreaker over Keene State with three games remaining.  One more win for the Warriors will give them the top seed for the conference tournament. The Owls hold a 1.5 game lead over Western Connecticut for second place in the conference.  KSC beat the Colonials 88-67 in January and play them again this Saturday.  A win in that contest would ensure that the Owls would finish no lower than second.  Western's mid-week game against Rhode Island College was postponed until Monday.

Up Next

  • As mentioned, Keene State will return home and entertain Western Connecticut State University on Saturday, February 10.  The Senior Day contest will start at 3:00 pm.
  • Eastern Connecticut makes the trip to UMass Dartmouth on Saturday for a 3:00 pm tip-off.