Owls Race Past Beacons To Reach Fourth Straight LEC Title Game

Owls Race Past Beacons To Reach Fourth Straight LEC Title Game

WILLIMANTIC, Conn.--Ty Nichols, James Anozie, and Dizel Wright combined for 70 points to lead the No. 2 seeded Keene State College men's basketball team to a 95-84 win over No. 3 seeded UMass Boston in the semifinals of the Little East Conference tournament at Geissler Gym on the campus of Eastern Connecticut State on Friday night.

Records

  • Keene State: 19-8
  • UMass Boston: 16-11

How it Happened

Nichols led the Owls with a double-double to the tune of 28 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 8-for-11 from the floor and make 10 of 13 free throw attempts.  Anozie also had a double-double with a career high 22 points and 10 boards, while Wright fell just shy of a triple-double, tossing in 20 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, with two blocks and two steals for good measure.

Charlie Mitchell led the Beacons with 21 points off the bench; Michael Boyd had 16 points, Dan Powers had 14, and Dasan Cinelli chipped in 11 for UMass Boston.

The teams traded baskets to open the game as Jordan Haywood's jumper gave the Owls a 4-0 lead before the Beacons went up 5-4 on Boyd's jumper.  DeVon Beasley found Wright for a three that made it 14-10, but the Owls could not pull away, as Powers' layup with 9:01 left in the half tied the game at 23.  

A pair of free throws from Nichols gave Keene State a 36-32 lead with 3:03 to go, but Powers sank a three to make it a one point game, and Boyd's layup with 19 seconds left cut the lead to 40-37 at the break.

The Owls exploded from the blocks to open the second half, outscoring the Beacons 20-6 over the first five minutes to take a 60-43 lead.  Miguel Prieto knocked down a three on KSC's first possession of the half, then Nichols fed Anozie down low before sinking threes on back-to-back possessions.  Anozie put back his own miss before Nichols fed Prieto for a 17 point advantage.

Wright's two free throws restored a 17 point lead (65-48), but the Beacons hung around, cutting the lead to 11 when Cinelli converted on a traditional three point play.  Two freebies by Powers with 5:18 left made it a six point game (76-70), but Nichols went 4-for-4 from the line on the next two KSC possessions to restore a 10 point lead.  Cinelli's hoop with 1:59 left cut the lead to 84-79, but Anozie scored on KSC's next possession, and the Beacons would not get closer than nine down the stretch.

In the Paint

  • Keene State had its best free throw shooting performance of the season for any game with a minimum of 20 attempts - the Owls knocked down 25 of 34 (73.5%) shots from the charity stripe.
  • KSC dominated the matchup on the glass, outrebounding UMass Boston 38-19, including a 7-2 edge in offensive boards.  
  • Keene State will be seeking its third Little East Conference tournament championship in four years.   The Owls won tournament titles in 2004, 2015, and 2016.  The winner of tomorrow's game receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.

Up Next

  • The Owls will play No. 10 and top seed Eastern Connecticut State for the second straight year in the LEC Championship game on Saturday at 5 p.m.   The Warriors held off a late rally by Western Connecticut State for a 92-82 win in the day's earlier semifinal.   Eastern Conn. State won last year's title game, 72-70.
  • The Beacons see their season come to an end.