KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College men's basketball team rode a blistering first half shooting performance to a dominating 107-80 win over Western Connecticut State University in the semifinal round of the Little East Conference tournament Friday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 19-7
- Western Connecticut: 17-10
How It Happened
The Owls were fueled by double-doubles from Ty Nichols and James Anozie in the runaway victory. Nichols narrowly missed out on a triple-double, as he finished with 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting (7-of-10 from three), 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. James Anozie added 22 points while making 8-of-13 from the field to go along with 11 rebounds and two assists. Edwin Ezedonwmen made his first five threes and scored 15 points, while Sidi Diallo rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10. WestConn was led by 13 points from Rashard Rodriguez.
A dunk from Nyzair Rountree and Ezedonmen's first triple sparked KSC right away, as the Owls were up 5-2 not even a minute and a half in and never slowed down after that. The lead grew to 10-4 after Anozie scored inside a short time later, and was 16-7 after Nichols buried consecutive threes prior to the first media timeout. The Colonials briefly drew within four after scoring five straight points, but Keene State hit right back with a 9-0 burst of their own, as five points from Nichols sandwiched a basket from Diallo, making it 25-12 at the 13:12 mark. Leading 32-20 with just under nine minutes to go in the first half, the Owls turned on the jets with another huge run. KSC blitzed the Colonials 17-2 over the next five minutes to open up a 49-22 lead with three minutes remaining. In that span, the Owls hit four threes - including three in a row from Ezedonmwen - and got five points from Anozie to take total command. Another triple, this one from Nichols, just before the buzzer gave KSC a 52-25 halftime lead. The Owls shot an eye-popping 60% (18-of-30) from the field and made 10-of-16 from distance.
Nichols scored again and Ezedonmwen canned another triple in the opening two minutes of the second half as the same story continued, with Keene State going up 57-27 with 18:18 to go. The Owls' offensive execution never slowed, as a 16-8 run capped by treys from Nichols and Jordan Haywood over the ensuing four minutes made it a 73-35 game. The advantage stretched to as many as 40 (82-42) with 10:31 left after long-range makes from Nichols and Kyle Santoro, and a basket and free throw from Anozie. KSC finished the game shooting 57% (37-of-65) and made 19-of-33 (58%) from three-point range, while WestConn finished at 45% (31-of-69) and 7-of-20 (35%) from deep.
Inside the Paint
- The Owls' 19 made three-pointers fell one shy of tying the school record for triples in a single game (20), which came against Long Island University-Southampton on December 5, 1992. KSC made 34 threes total in the last two matchups with WestConn, and has made 10 or more threes 10 times this season.
- Keene State has won seven straight and 10 of the last 12 meetings against the Colonials. KSC won 79-70 in Danbury, Conn. and 78-77 at Spaulding Gym in the regular season series.
- The Owls set several season-highs in the contest, including points (107), made threes (19), assists (26), while also tying a season-best with 37 made field goals. KSC had not scored this many points in a game since recording a 112-61 win over UMass Dartmouth January 13, 2018.
- Keene State will match up with Eastern Connecticut State University in the Little East Conference tournament championship game tomorrow, February 23, at 5:00 pm. The Warriors fought past UMass Dartmouth 79-74 in tonight's second semifinal. It will be the third consecutive year KSC and ECSU have met in the finals, with the previous two coming in Willimantic, Conn. The Owls are looking for their fourth LEC title, having previously won in 2004, 2015 and 2016.
- Western Connecticut sees their season end. The Colonials had won their previous three games to reach the semifinals.