WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Ty Nichols continues to rack up the points, this time scoring 40, but the Keene State College men's basketball team lost 79-66 to Eastern Connecticut State University in a Little East contest at Geissler Gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
- Keene State: 8-7, 4-3 LEC
- Eastern Connecticut: 12-3, 6-1 LEC
How It Happened
Nichols' scoring effort came on 13-of-28 shooting from the floor and 11-of-14 at the free throw line. He also added eight rebounds and a steal, but was the only Owl to score in double-figures. Edwin Ezedonmwen had nine points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal, while Nyzair Rountree collected eight boards. Eastern Connecticut was paced by Carlos Gonzalez, who scored 21 points. Seth Thomas had 20.
ECSU opened a 6-2 lead before two minutes were gone, and eventually stretched it to 11-5 at the 17:05 mark. The Owls rallied, going on a 9-2 run that finished with a layup and a trey from Nichols, to take their first lead of the game at 14-13 with a little over 13 minutes remaining in the half. The lead was short-lived, as the hosts hit back by scoring the next six points while KSC did not score for nearly three minutes. Miguel Prieto's jumper brought the Owls back within 19-16, but Eastern Connecticut scored seven in a row for a double-digit lead, and later led 30-18 after Jaysen Nunez's three with 4:40 on the clock. Nichols scored the final five KSC points of the half, including a three-point play in the final minute that made it 34-23 at the break. He scored 16 points in the opening half, but the Owls as a team shot just 31% (10-of-32) and made just 2-of-11 from long range (18%) in what was easily their lowest scoring half of the season.
The second half was not much different initially, as Nichols' layup just seven seconds in opened the scoring and had KSC within nine, but ECSU got a Gonzalez three on the other end and eventually went on a 12-4 run to lead 46-29 not even three minutes in. It continued to go downhill for the Owls, as consecutive layups from Gonzalez and Jake Collagan made it a 19-point lead, which later extended to 55-33 after a three by Gonzalez. Trailing by 24 with 11:45 left, KSC did chip away over the next nine-plus minutes by outscoring Eastern Connecticut 25-8 to make it a seven-point game. Paul Mahon's layup and a triple from Nichols made it 68-50 with 7:26 to go, and the Owls kept pecking away, as Ezedonmwen and Nichols made consecutive layups to make it a 13-point game (69-56) with about five and a half minutes left. A dunk from Rountree and a trey from Ezedonmwen a few minutes later had the deficit in single digits for the first time since the opening minute of the half, and another Nichols three-ball made it 72-65 with 2:09 remaining, the closest the visitors had gotten since it was 21-16. Keene State ran out of time, though, as ECSU made 7-of-8 from the line down the stretch to seal the win.
Inside the Paint
- Nichols (1,954 career points), who entered the day third nationally in points per game, continues to rapidly move up KSC's all-time scoring list. He now needs just 17 to move into second place and 70 to become the school's new leader. Al Hicks '76 is currently in first place with 2,023.
- Keene State shot 36% in the contest and struggled mightily from three, connecting on just 5-of-27 (19%). They made 13-of-21 free throws (62%). Eastern shot 48% overall, made 9-of-27 threes (33%) and 20-of-25 at the charity stripe.
- The Owls have not won at Geissler Gymnasium in the regular season since 2012.
- Keene State visits Western Connecticut State University on Wednesday, January 16 at 7:30 pm. The Owls are currently fourth in the conference, just behind third-place WCSU who is 4-2.
- Eastern Connecticut goes to UMass Dartmouth on the same night and time in a matchup of the two 6-1 teams in the league.