KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College men's basketball team played at home for the first time since December 8 and made it a welcome return, using four double-figure scorers to beat Castleton University 83-70 in LEC action Thursday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 8-6, 4-2 LEC
- Castleton: 3-11, 0-6 LEC
How It Happened
Ty Nichols moved over the 1,900 career point barrier with a 24 point performance. He also added seven assists, four rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Paul Mahon had a career-high 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from deep, while Edwin Ezedonmwen tallied 13 points and James Anozie 12. Casey Belade made 9-of-13 from the floor to score a team-high 20 points for Castleton.
The Owls scored the opening four points of the game, but Castleton responded with a 10-2 run for a four-point lead less than three minutes in. It was still 14-11 Spartans after Belade's jumper, but KSC eventually retook the lead (15-14) on Nichols' two free throws at the 10:50 mark, and went ahead 20-15 on a trey from him a little over a minute later. Consecutive layups from Anozie and Nyzair Rountree with about five minutes to go in the half stretched the home team's lead to 26-17, and a triple from Ezedonmwen with 1:51 to go had KSC ahead 31-20. Castleton hung around, getting back within seven in the final minute, but a Nichols steal and dunk in the final seconds gave Keene State a 33-24 halftime lead.
The offenses awakened in the second half, as the teams combined to make 33-of-60 from the field, but the Owls pulled away thanks to a barrage of Mahon threes after an initial Castleton burst brought the visitors within 35-31. His first two triples, coming within 32 seconds of each other, quickly restored a double-digit (41-31) KSC lead. Later, two more long range makes from Mahon on consecutive possessions made it 47-36 with 16:19 to go. The Owls continued to gradually gain separation using the three-ball, as one from Prieto put KSC up 15 and, a short time later, Kyle Santoro connected for a 60-43 lead with just under 13 minutes left. A Prieto layup and two Jeric Cichon free throws brought the lead to a game-high 21 approaching the midway point of the half. Castleton whittled the deficit to 11 at 67-56 with still 7:59 to go after a 13-3 burst, but Nichols stopped that with a three, and later he and Mahon made consecutive layups to make it 78-58 just over two minutes later. Ezedonmwen's three with 4:12 to go had the lead back up to 21 (81-60) before the Spartans tallied 10 of the final 12 points to set the final margin.
Inside the Paint
- Nichols' 1,914 career points leave him 56 away from tying Chris Coates '01 for second on KSC's all-time men's basketball scoring list. He entered the day second nationally in points per game.
- Mahon has now scored in double-figures four times and is shooting 53% (18-of-34) from three-point range this season.
- The Owls, who made a season-high 12 triples, had 23 assists on 29 made field goals. They shot 45% in the contest, including 50% after halftime. Castleton shot 52% overall.
- KSC has won five straight against Castleton. This was the first meeting with the two teams as conference foes.
- Keene State heads back out on the road for a key LEC matchup with Eastern Connecticut State University on Saturday, January 12 at 3:00 pm. The Owls, who will be looking for their first regular season win in Willimantic since 2012, are 4-2 in the conference while ECSU is 5-1.
- Castleton hosts UMass Dartmouth on the same day at 4:00 pm. The Corsairs are also 5-1 in league play.