GORHAM, Maine – The No. 6 seeded Keene State College women's basketball team saw their season come to a close with a 54-45 loss to the No. 3 seed University of Southern Maine in the quarterfinal round of the Little East Conference Tournament played Tuesday evening at Hill Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 6-20
- Southern Maine: 14-12
How It Happened
Sandi Purcell, playing in her final collegiate game, paced the Owls with 13 points, a team-high six rebounds and two assists. Hien Thach added a career-high 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Emily McPadden came off the bench to chip in seven points, four rebounds and three steals.
Southern Maine was led by three double-figure scorers. Miranda Nicely had 15 points and four rebounds. Emily Nicholson chipped in 13 points, a game-high five assists and a steal, while Kristen Curley had 10 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. Chantel Eells had a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Huskies stormed out to two separate five point advantages in the first quarter. The first came in the first minute, as Nicely canned a jumper and a three to account for the five points. The Owls quickly responded with a 5-0 run of their own, getting a trey from Purcell and a jumper from Tamra Gonyea to tie the game at the 8:09 mark. The offenses slowed from there, but Curley went on a five point scoring binge of her own to provide the Huskies a 10-5 lead with 4:36 remaining. Triples from Lilly Shlimon and another from Purcell just a minute and half later gave KSC their initial lead of the game at 11-10. Shlimon canned two from the free throw line to put the Owls up three, but USM scored the final five points of the first quarter and led 15-13 after one. Keene State's offense struggled in the second quarter and the Huskies took advantage, taking a double-digit lead into halftime. Triples from Morgan Eliasen and Curley made it 21-13 at the 6:31 mark of the second quarter. The Owls broke their offensive drought with a Gonyea free throw that made it a seven point game (21-14) with 1:24 left until halftime, but Southern Maine got a deep shot from Nicholson and led 26-14 at the break.
Keene State came out of the locker room and used a 9-4 burst to get within seven (30-23) at the 6:49 mark. Layups from Thach and Abby Thut capped the surge. USM scored the next four to go back up 34-23 and never let the Owls get any sustained push, as KSC was only able to get within eight on two occasions after that. Southern Maine took a 40-28 lead after three by utilizing the free throw line to their advantage down the stretch of the third quarter. Keene State opened the fourth by getting a jumper from Thut and a triple from McPadden to quickly get back within seven (40-33) less than a minute in, but USM clamped down and scored nine consecutive points to put the Owls in a deep hole. Trailing by 16 (49-33) with 4:19 left, KSC had one final surge in them, getting to within 49-40 with 1:15 to go on a triple from Purcell and baskets from Thach and McPadden. The Owls got layups from McPadden and a traditional three point play from Thach in the final minute that made it 52-45 with 15 seconds left, but Nicely canned two free throws and KSC's comeback fell short.
In the Paint
- Both teams struggled from the field, as Southern Maine connected on 29% (15-of-51) and Keene State 26% (16-of-61). The Owls made 6-of-28 from three-point range and 7-of-9 at the free throw line, while the Huskies made 7-of-20 from deep and 17-of-22 at the charity stripe.
- USM controlled the glass 47-33 and outscored the Owls 12-5 on second chance points.
- After KSC won both regular season matchups and knocked the Huskies out in the quarterfinal round last year, Southern Maine won all three matchups against KSC this season.
- Purcell finishes her career with 1,267 points, seventh on the all-time Keene State scoring list. She also wraps up her career among KSC's all-time leaders in scoring average (12.1 ppg, 8th), field goal attempts (1,324, 2nd), three pointers made (261, 2nd), and three point attempts (885, 2nd). She also ranks in the top 10 in several single season categories, including most games played in a season (29, 2016-17), and three pointers made (80, fifth most set in 2016-17).
- Keene State sees their season come to a close. It is the first time since 2013-14 that the Owls did not advance past the quarterfinal round of the Little East Tournament. The Owls return nine players from this year's team.
- Southern Maine, the No. 3 seed in the LEC Tournament, will play No. 2 seed UMass Boston on Friday night. The game, which will take place at top seed and host UMass Dartmouth, is scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. The top four seeds all won this evening to advance to the semifinals