KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College men's basketball team will begin their sixth NCAA tournament appearance with a first round matchup against Moravian College (Pa.) on Friday at Scott Field House on the campus of Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for the first round will be available at the field house entrance on Friday starting at 4:30 p.m. Adults are $10, while students and seniors are each $5. Children two and under are free of charge. A limited number of tickets for Saturday's second round game will be available Friday night for 30 minutes following the completion of each first round contest. The remaining tickets will be available at the field house entrance on Saturday starting at 6:00 p.m.
Keene State (20-7) has won 12 games in a row and qualified for the NCAA tournament with a 72-69 win over Eastern Connecticut State University in the Little East championship game last Saturday. The tournament's Most Outstanding Player Ty Nichols poured in 25 of his 37 points in the second half as KSC closed the game on a 14-3 burst over the last four minutes to erase a 66-58 deficit. Nichols' 37 points came just one day after a 27-point effort in a decisive 107-80 semifinal win over Western Connecticut State University. The Owls are making their third NCAA trip in the last four years, and have made two runs apiece to the Elite Eight (2004, 2017) and Sweet 16 (2007, 2016).
Moravian (19-8) won the Landmark Conference tournament as the No. 2 seed after taking down Susquehanna University 91-73 in the semifinals before winning 86-72 at top seed Drew University in the championship. The Greyhounds dominated after halftime in the title game, as they stretched a 40-34 edge at the break to as many as 25 in the second half while locking up their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and fourth overall (1983, 2008, 2018, 2019).
KSC head coach Ryan Cain is in his fourth season with the Owls and has compiled an 81-37 record, which includes one Elite Eight appearance, one Sweet 16 appearance, two Little East tournament championships, and three 20-win seasons. Moravian is led by Justin Potts, who is 69-39 and in his fourth season at his alma mater. Potts has turned the Greyhounds' program around, as he oversaw the first Landmark Conference championship in school history in 2018, setting a new program single-season wins record (20) in the process.
The Owls are led by senior and Little East Player of the Year Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.), who is third nationally in scoring at 27.3 points per game. He has scored 128 points in the last four games, including 64 points on 22-of-35 shooting in the postseason, and is shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three on the season. Nichols also adds team-bests of 7.3 rebounds, five assists, and 2.6 steals per contest. Sophomore James Anozie (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) chips in 15 points per game on 59% shooting while grabbing 6.6 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Miguel Prieto (Providence, R.I.) also averages double-figures in points (10.3) while handing out 3.9 assists per game.
Moravian's go-to player is senior Oneil Holder (East Stroudsburg, Pa.), who averages team-bests of 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.7 steals. He has scored in double-figures in all but three games this season, and recently totaled 49 points on 19-of-30 shooting from the floor in two Landmark tournament games. Senior Jimmy Murray (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) chips in 13.9 points per game and junior C.J. Barnes (Egg Harbor Township, Pa.) 12.2 to round out the double-figure scorers. Holder, Murray and Barnes all shoot 40% or better from three, as does senior Will Brazukas (Philadelphia, Pa.) in a limited sample. Brazukas also dishes out a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Overall, the Greyhounds shoot 45% from the floor, 36.5% from three and 75.6% from the free throw line. KSC has 47.1/37.8/72.5 splits. Moravian is outrebounded by 3.3 on average, while the Owls' rebounding margin is +1 per game.
The Earlier Matchup
The two teams have never met, nor did they share any common opponents this season.
The Rest of the Tournament
Friday's other first round game will feature host and 10th-ranked Hamilton College (23-4) against Penn State Behrend (23-4) of Erie, Pa. at 7:30 p.m. The two first round winners will meet on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.