KEENE, N.H. – The Keene State College men's basketball team took a 19-17 lead with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half and never trailed again, staving off the University of Southern Maine 82-72 in a Little East Conference contest Saturday afternoon at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 4-7, 3-0 LEC
- Southern Maine: 5-7, 0-4 LEC
How It Happened
DeVon Beasley scored a game-high and career-high tying 21 points, making 10-of-13 from the foul line in the process, to lead Keene State's offensive attack that featured 47 bench points, 32 more than their Southern Maine counterparts. Jeff Hunter contributed his first collegiate double-double, finishing with an efficient 13 points and 10 rebounds. Miguel Prieto filled the statsheet with 10 points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block. James Anozie rounded out KSC's double-figure scorers with 10 as the Owls snapped a two-game losing streak. Southern Maine got 17 points apiece from Derek Haney (6-12 FG) and Jay Roberts (5-15 FG). Roberts grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Owls started off on the right foot, holding the Huskies to just three points over the first 4:38 while building a 6-3 lead. However, the visitors answered with a 10-4 run that took just over two minutes to take their first lead, 13-10, after a three from Haney and two free throws from DJ Anderson. A basket from Anderson at the 11:09 mark still had USM up by two, but Keene State slowly took control over the remainder of the half. A layup from Hunter and two foul shots from Prieto put the Owls up five (25-20) with 6:27 left, and Tony Harris' strong drive to the basket in transition made it 29-22 with 3:35 to go. The Huskies hit back quickly, making it a 33-29 game after scoring seven of the next 11 in less than two minutes, but KSC closed the half with an 8-2 burst that included the final five points, three of which came from a Nick Redden triple in the final seconds. The Owls led 41-31 at halftime and committed just four turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
Southern Maine started the second half strong, scoring 16 points in the opening five minutes to quickly chip the deficit all the way down to one (48-47). Jacobe Thomas had seven points in that span, but just eight in the rest of the game on 5-for-14 shooting after he entered the day at 50 percent from the field. Every time the Huskies made a push, the Owls had an answer. Leading 50-48 with 13:40 to go, KSC tallied the next eight points, stretching the lead to double-figures with just under nine minutes remaining after Hunter scored inside on consecutive possessions. The Huskies went over five minutes without a point. A trey from Beasley and a free throw by Sidi Diallo still had Keene State maintaining a 65-54 edge at the 5:18 mark, but the Huskies did not go quietly, as a 6-0 run that took only 1:45 kept them within striking distance at 66-60. A layup by Prieto and a block and eventual free throw on the other end by Nyzair Rountree on the following two possessions boosted the Owl lead back to nine (69-60) with 3:09 remaining. Hunter canned a jumper moments later to make it a double-digit game again, and Keene State was not seriously threatened after that as they made 11-of-17 at the charity stripe over the final 2:45 to seal the win.
Inside the Paint
- KSC shot 42% (26-of-62) in the game and Southern Maine 36% (24-of-67). The Owls committed a season-low 12 turnovers and also controlled the glass 50-39.
- Beasley's 21-point match a personal best that he also set on January 24, 2018 in a runaway win over Plymouth State.
- Hunter's 5-of-8 effort from the floor keeps him atop the conference in field goal percentage (61.8) for the season among qualified players.
- Keene State has won 39 of 47 all-time meetings against USM.
- Keene State, one of three 3-0 teams in conference play, begins a busy three-game conference week with a visit to Plymouth State University (5-5, 0-2 LEC) on Tuesday, January 7 for a 7:30 pm tip-off.
- Southern Maine returns home to host Rhode Island College on the same night.