KEENE, N.H. - Eastern Connecticut State University used an 8-0 run over the final 1:57 of overtime to erase a five-point deficit and went on to beat the Keene State College men's basketball team 68-65 in Little East action Thursday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 5-8, 4-1 LEC
- Eastern Connecticut: 6-7, 2-2 LEC
How It Happened
In a different looking matchup of the two teams who faced each other in the Little East tournament title game last year, Keene State never trailed in the first 31 minutes, then saw themselves down five (56-51) with just over five minutes to go in regulation, only to go ahead by five with less than two minutes left in overtime. However, it was Eastern Connecticut who ultimately prevailed after scoring the final eight points as the Owls went 0-for-3 with two turnovers in the final 1:57. Jeric Cichon led Keene State with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with six rebounds, four assists and a steal. James Anozie and Nyzair Rountree each had 12 points and five boards, while Jeff Hunter had 11 points and eight rebounds. Eastern Connecticut, who had three starters play all 45 minutes, got 20 points from Jake Collagan and 18 from Seth Thomas.
Rountree started the game with a three and Cichon followed with a layup on the next possession as KSC started on the right foot offensively and led 5-2, but the Owls then scored only six points over the next nine minutes. Eastern Connecticut was not doing much scoring in that time, either, but did tie the game twice, the last of which coming at the 10:13 mark when it was 11-11. A Rountree putback basket got the Owls going again and sparked what turned into a 14-2 run that made it a double-digit lead for KSC, as Hunter's layup with five minutes left made it 25-13. Hunter scored again, two more of his eight points (and five rebounds) in the opening half, with a little less than two minutes remaining to keep it a 12-point game (31-19), but ECSU scored the final five points to get within seven at halftime.
The Warriors pushed throughout the second half, turning a 35-27 deficit into a one-point game at the 16:39 mark after a 7-0 burst. It stayed close for the rest of the game after that, but Keene State stayed ahead for the moment, as Anozie's layup and a trey by Tony Harris made it 47-42 nearly halfway through the period. The Owl offense then evaporated, as Eastern Connecticut went ahead for the first time on the back of a 14-4 run where they went 5-for-8 from the field. Seth Thomas' layup put the Owls down 50-49 with 8:47 to go, and KSC eventually found themselves trailing 56-51 three minutes later. Cichon and Harris scored on consecutive possessions to help respond, tying the game at 59 with 2:16 left. Neither team scored again in regulation and, in fact, the Warriors went 6:31 spanning the end of the second half and overtime without scoring a point.
The Owls appeared to have control in the extra session, as Cichon buried a triple 13 seconds in, and later Olson grabbed an offensive board and scored to make it 64-59 with just 2:26 on the clock. Hunter made one of two from the foul line on KSC's next possession to keep the lead at five, but the home team never scored again. ECSU snapped a long field goal drought on Collagan's basket that made it 65-64 with 46 seconds to go and, after Keene State missed a layup, Collagan fed Jake McCarthy, who was wide open for a layup that put the Warriors up one. The Owls still had a chance with 12 seconds left and the ball following a timeout, but immediately turned the ball over and Muckle scored in transition on the other end with less than a second to go.
Inside the Paint
- Keene State was outscored by 15 points from behind the three-point line, as the Owls connected on just 3-of-18 (17%) and ECSU 8-of-21 (38%). Both teams shot just 38% overall from the field. KSC got to the charity stripe 12 times and made half, while the Warriors were 12-of-18 (67%).
- The Owls fell despite outscoring ECSU 48-26 in the paint and outrebounding them 52-41, including 16-8 on the offensive end. KSC turned the 16 extra chances into only 14 points.
- Eastern Connecticut had lost the last two head-to-head meetings, both in Keene, by 81-76 and 72-69 scores.
- KSC has another quick turnaround, as they go to Rhode Island College on Saturday, January 11 for a 3:00 pm start. The Anchormen, who were blasted 89-70 at Western Connecticut State University tonight, are also 4-1 in the league.
- Eastern Connecticut has another trip to New Hampshire on Saturday when they visit Plymouth State University (6-6, 1-3 LEC) at 3:00 pm.