Eight is Great: Owls Grind Past WestConn 78-77 to Extend Streak, Keep Pace in Little East

Eight is Great: Owls Grind Past WestConn 78-77 to Extend Streak, Keep Pace in Little East

KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College men's basketball team extended their winning streak to eight games after making a season-high 15 threes in a 78-77 victory over Western Connecticut State University in Little East action Wednesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.

Records

  • Keene State:  16-7, 11-3 LEC
  • Western Connecticut:  14-8, 8-5 LEC

How It Happened

Ty Nichols was the lone Owl in double-figures, as he finished with 21 points, seven assists and two steals.  Three others finished with nine points, including Paul Mahon, who made 3-of-4 from long range and tossed in four assists and a steal.  James Anozie had nine points and four rebounds, and Miguel Prieto also had nine points on 3-of-6 long distance shooting to go along with six assists, three rebounds and two steals for KSC, who was 10th in the initial regional rankings released earlier Wednesday.  WestConn had four double-figure scorers and was led by Aaron Samuel's 17 points and seven rebounds.

Keene State started strong, as they got three balls from Edwin Ezedonmwen and Mahon in the opening three minutes to lead 10-5.  Anozie also scored twice inside during the surge.  The Colonials hung around, scoring four straight points to get within 12-10, but KSC stayed out in front, as it was Prieto's turn to can a triple that put the Owls up six at the 13:20 mark.  Keene State managed only that many points over the next seven minutes, though, and watched WCSU go on a 16-6 tear that provided the visitors a lead after Fenton Bradley Jr.'s dunk with 6:46 to go.  Trailing 26-22 after a three-point play from Geary McLeod, the Owls roared back, scoring 18 of the next 20 points for a 40-28 lead as the half wound down.  Anozie's two free throws put the Owls back ahead, and KSC was eventually up 34-28 with just less than two minutes to go after consecutive layups from Nyzair Rountree and Sidi Diallo.  Triples from Nichols and Prieto capped the uprising before two Colonial free throws in the final 12 seconds made it 40-30 at halftime.

Keene State appeared to pull away in the opening eight minutes of the second half, as Anozie converted inside before Mahon connected from distance for a 45-33 lead with 16:44 left.  Triples from Tony Harris and Kyle Santoro stretched the home team's lead to a game-high 16 (54-38) less than four minutes later, but WestConn made a game of it down the stretch, as they scored eight consecutive points to chop the deficit in half with 11:17 to go, and were within 58-52 after Tracy Cleckley Jr.'s layup with just over eight minutes left.  Mahon drained another trey to stop the Colonials' momentum and put the Owls up nine, but the visitors kept coming, making it a one possession game at 61-59 with still six minutes on the clock.  KSC, as they did all night, relied on the long ball to ward off WestConn.  Ezedonmwen connected from distance after an offensive rebound on the next trip to put the hosts back up five, and Nichols did the same with just over four minutes to go, making it 69-62.  He was at it again two minutes later, as another three-point make made it 72-65 with 2:09 to go.  The Colonials pressured and forced turnovers as they made a last ditch comeback attempt, with Samuel scoring four straight points to make it a three-point game (72-69) with 50 seconds remaining.  Keene State held on, though, as Harris helped Jordan Haywood beat the defense down the floor for a layup.  Harris and Nichols then made two from the charity stripe for a 78-73 edge with 28 seconds to go.  WCSU forced a turnover after being fouled on the next possession and got a three from Ahmod Privott to make it a one-point game with two ticks on the clock, but the Owls beat the press on the inbound and salted away their eighth straight win.

Inside the Paint

  • KSC made a season-high 15 threes in the game while shooting them at a 50% clip.  WestConn made just 6-of-23 from deep.  The long ball was needed for the hosts, as they took a season-low 47 field goal attempts (25-of-47, 53%).
  • The Owls last won eight in a row in 2014-15 when they opened the season with that many consecutive victories.
  • Keene State's win helps them keep pace with Eastern Connecticut State University and UMass Dartmouth, who were also victorious tonight, in the conference race.  The Owls can clinch the top seed in the conference and tournament hosting privileges by winning their final two regular season games.

Up Next

  • KSC visits Rhode Island College on Saturday, February 9 for a 3:00 pm tip-off.
  • WestConn goes to rival Eastern Connecticut on the same day and time.