NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Ty Nichols hit the go-ahead jumper with eight seconds left to lift the Keene State College men's basketball team to a 73-71 win over UMass Dartmouth in the regular season finale for both teams at the Tripp Athletic Center.
- Keene State: 17-8, 11-3 LEC
- UMass Dartmouth: 12-13, 5-9 LEC
How It Happened
Nichols made 11-of-12 from the free throw line and led the Owls with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds. Dizel Wright had 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and a block, while James Anozie had 12 points, seven rebounds and a steal. Jordan Haywood had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Joshua Imadiyi connected on 5-of-10 from long range and had a 24 point, 13 rebound double-double for UMass Dartmouth. Jake Ashworth added 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Atakan Akcam recorded 12 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists. Arinze Obiora also had 12 points, five rebounds and a block for the Corsairs, who have lost six of seven, only beating Eastern Connecticut on February 10.
The scoring was slow early, but UMass Dartmouth ran out to an early 11-6 advantage over the first five-plus minutes on the back of a jumper and triple from Imadiyi. The Owls found their footing, getting a dunk and free throw from Wright to tie the game and, later, going up 19-11 at the 9:27 mark of the first half. Overall, KSC rattled off 13 consecutive points during the surge, including four points each from Nichols and Anozie. UMass Dartmouth got back within three (19-16) on a three from Imadiyi, but the Owls used another surge, this one 11-2, to go up double-digits. Sidi Diallo had four points during the streak and Wright, Nichols and Ben Olson each chipped in buckets. KSC's lead grew to as many as 13 (32-19) with 3:42 left in the half, but the Corsairs got within six just a minute and half later on a layup from Akcam. Miguel Prieto drained a three in the final minute to put the Owls back up nine, but Obiora answered with a layup and it was a 37-30 KSC lead at halftime.
UMass Dartmouth opened up the second half on a 10-3 run in just two and a half minutes, capped by a three from Imadiyi to tie the game at 40. The Owls hit back with five straight points of their own, including a Haywood triple to go up five. They extended the lead to 53-44 at the 13:17 mark after layups from Diallo, Olson and Wright. UMD drew within one possession (54-51) nearly halfway through the half, but a layup from Wright and four from the free throw line by Nichols widened the Owls' lead back out to 61-51 with 8:01 left. The Corsairs would not go away, though, scoring eight straight points to get within three just two minutes later. Keene State held them off for the moment, getting a layup from Nichols to go back up 66-63, but UMass Dartmouth took their first lead of the second half (67-66) on an Imadiyi layup with 3:07 remaining. KSC misfired on a three and the Corsairs had a chance to extend the lead, but did not take advantage, and Nichols canned two free throws at the 2:20 mark to put the Owls back in front 68-67. An Anozie layup on the next possession had KSC up three with 1:39 left, but UMass Dartmouth evened the score at 70 a minute later on Brandon Williams Jr.'s basket and free throw.
The Owls went to Nichols and got a critical basket to retake the lead (72-70) with eight seconds left. UMD had a final chance and drew a foul, but Williams Jr. only made one of two from the line. KSC grabbed the board and was fouled with less than a second left, where Nichols made the first and intentionally missed the second as the Owls escaped with the victory.
In the Paint
- Keene State won for the second time in the last three years at UMass Dartmouth and has beaten the Corsairs in four straight and eight of ten overall.
- The Owls shot 46% (25-of-54) from the floor and limited UMD to just 32% (22-of-69). KSC connected on 2-of-8 from long range and 21-of-30 from the free throw line, while the Corsairs made 8-of-28 threes and 19-of-28 at the charity stripe.
- Each team grabbed 43 rebounds, but UMass Dartmouth controlled the offensive glass 13-4, leading to an 11-2 advantage in second chance points. However, KSC did outscore UMD 38-26 in the paint.
- The Keene State bench outscored UMass Dartmouth 35-1. Olson had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting and five rebounds off the bench, while Prieto chipped in five points, three rebounds and three assists.
- Keene State finished the conference slate 11-3, going 6-1 in LEC play at Spaulding Gym and 5-2 on the road.
- Playoff Permutations: This game had no impact on Keene State's seeding, as they were locked into the No. 2 spot. UMass Dartmouth already had the No. 5 seed clinched and was only awaiting to see who their quarterfinal opponent would be. The lone game with an impact on the playoff race was Western Connecticut and UMass Boston, where the winner would clinch the No. 3 seed and host No. 6 seed Rhode Island College on Tuesday. The Beacons hammered the Colonials 86-52, meaning they will host the Anchormen and the fourth-seeded Colonials will host UMD on Tuesday. Also, top seed Eastern Connecticut will host eighth-seeded Plymouth State on that same evening.
- As mentioned, Keene State will be the No. 2 seed in the Little East Conference Tournament and host seventh-seeded University of Southern Maine on Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 pm. Keene State won both regular season matchups. This will be the second straight year the Owls have hosting the Huskies in a quarterfinal.
- UMass Dartmouth will be the No. 5 seed in the LEC Tournament and will make a visit to fourth-seeded Western Connecticut on the same night at the same time.