KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College men's basketball team went from leading by 12 to trailing by 10 in just over seven minutes early in the second half and never got over the hump after that while losing their third straight, 80-77 to UMass-Dartmouth Wednesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 5-10, 4-3 LEC
- UMass-Dartmouth: 10-6, 5-2 LEC
How It Happened
The Owls put four in double-figures, led by Jeric Cichon's new career-high of 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He added four assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block. Nyzair Rountree made 6-of-8 shots and finished with a 13 point, 11 rebound double-double, while Jeff Hunter and James Anozie chipped in 12 points each. The latter two combined to grab eight of Keene State's 21 offensive rebounds in the game, but KSC was an ice cold 2-of-18 (11%) from three-point range and did not make any until 1:25 remained in the game. They were outscored by 21 points from behind the arc. Dhalyn Sanders-Dyer finished with 15 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 3-PT), six assists, two rebounds and a steal off the bench to lead UMass-Dartmouth. Sean Leahy tossed in 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks as the Corsairs won their third straight after losing four of five.
KSC had no issues to start, as they picked apart UMD's defense in the early going to the tune of a 6-2 lead in just over a minute and, later, a 10-5 edge after Anozie's layup at the 15:26 mark. The Corsairs briefly tied the game at 10, but the Owls responded with an 8-0 run and led 18-10 with just over 10 minutes left in the opening half. UMass-Dartmouth slowly chipped away, eventually getting to within five after a quick burst that saw a layup from Sanders-Dyer and a three from Adam Seablom make it 26-21 with 4:48 left, but Anozie and Rountree scored on consecutive possessions and the Owls bumped the lead back up to 11 (32-21) after Hunter's layup at the 2:48 mark. In what would be a harbinger of things to come, KSC immediately let UMD back in the game, as the Corsairs hit two threes and were right back within three just 1:36 later. Buckets from Tony Harris and Nick Redden in the final minute helped KSC hold a 37-31 lead at halftime. Despite going 0-for-10 from three in the first 20 minutes, the Owls never trailed held a lead at the break thanks to 43% shooting and 10 assists against just six turnovers.
Consecutive aggressive takes to the cup for Cichon in the opening moments of the second half helped Keene State get off and running again, as the Owls nudged the lead back up to double-figures (43-31) with 18:19 to go. However, it was downhill from there in quick fashion, as UMass-Dartmouth rung up a 28-6 run that did not even take seven minutes to suddenly go up 59-49 with 11 minutes left. KSC made just 3-of-13 shots during the Corsair surge and turned the ball over six times. Meanwhile, the Corsairs made three from long-range in that time and 5-of-9 (55%) overall in the final 20 minutes. Hunter and Cichon each scored inside to cap a 6-0 Owl run as the home team made it a four-point game (59-55) at the 8:44 mark, but Sanders-Dyer made a three about a minute later and Keene State never strung together enough stops to be able to get back in front. Three points each from Rountree and Ben Olson brought KSC back within 68-65 with just over four minutes remaining, but another Corsair triple, this one from Leahy, crunched any momentum the Owls were gathering. Trailing by eight with 2:20 on the clock, Keene State made one more push, as Cichon finished an old-fashioned three-point play and Redden made the Owls' first three of the game to make it 78-74 with still 1:25 to play. Edwin Ezedonmwen followed with another on KSC's next possession to make it a two-point game (79-77) and the Owls got the ball back with under a minute to go and a chance to tie or take the lead, but turned it over. UMass-Dartmouth made just 2-of-6 from the foul line in the final minute to keep Keene State with a chance the whole time, but a pair of turnovers snuffed that out.
Inside the Paint
- Rountree's 11 rebounds were a career-high. He has scored in double-figures in three of the last four games (17-27 FG, 63%, 8-9 FT).
- Keene State has made 9-of-56 (16%) from long-range in the past three games.
- It was the second game in the past six days that KSC dropped at home, where they are 2-6, after never trailing in the first half (Eastern Connecticut on January 9). Last Thursday, the Owls led by as many as 12 with less than five minutes left in the first half before settling for a seven point lead at the break. Tonight, Keene State led by 11 with 2:48 to go in the opening stanza before seeing the lead chipped to six heading into the locker room.
- The Owls had won 16 of 21 against the Corsairs overall entering tonight, but have now lost back-to-back home games against UMD after beating them nine times in a row at Spaulding Gym by an average of 19 points.
- Keene State travels to Danbury, Conn. for a matchup with Western Connecticut State University (10-5, 4-2 LEC) next Wednesday, January 22, at 7:30 pm.
- UMass-Dartmouth entertains Plymouth State University (7-7, 2-4 LEC) on Saturday (January 18) at 3:00 pm.