Strong Start, Four Double-Figure Scorers Help Owls Handle Spartans 67-53

KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College men's basketball team got four double-digit scoring efforts, including another double-double from Jeff Hunter, and opened the game on a 10-1 run before eventually posting a 67-53 win over Little East Conference opponent Castleton University Wednesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.

Records

  • Keene State:  7-12, 5-5 LEC
  • Castleton:  2-17, 1-9 LEC

How It Happened

Keene State never trailed while picking up their second win in three days, leading by as many as 20 in the opening half before holding off the Spartans in the second.  DeVon Beasley made 4-of-8 from long range to record a team-high 14 points, while Sidi Diallo (4-8 FG, 3-7 3-PT, 2-2 FT) added 13, notching double-figures for the second straight game.  Hunter scored the Owls' first seven points and finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 11 rebounds, while Jaylen Franklin rounded out the players in double-digits with 11 points.  He added six rebounds.  Castleton was led by Remy Brown's 16 points (4-7 FG, 2-4 3-PT, 6-8 FT).  Casey Belade had 14 off the bench, but the Spartans were held under 60 points for the 11th time this season.

Starting strong has not been an issue for the Owls at home recently, as they never trailed and led by at least 11 points in their past two defeats at Spaulding Gymnasium, and this contest was no different, as KSC quickly assumed control with five straight points from Hunter and a three by Franklin making it 10-1 nearly eight minutes in.  Brown and Belade each made a three to bring Castleton back within six (13-7) at the 11:05 mark, but the Owls hit back with a 9-0 burst, going up 22-7 after a three and two free throws by Diallo on consecutive trips.  The gap continued to widen, as Hunter's layup with a little more than six minutes left in the half made it 26-11 before a trey by Beasley with 4:23 left made it a 19-point lead.  KSC led by as many as 20 (35-15) before taking a 35-18 lead into the break.  The Owls shot 43% in the opening 20 minutes and assisted on nine of their 13 made field goals.

Castleton scored 10 of the first 11 second half points in less than two minutes to nearly chop their deficit in half, and continued to hang around to some extent for the majority of the period, but never got closer than seven, as Keene State usually had an answer despite shooting just 4-of-16 from three and 6-of-14 from the foul line in the final 20 minutes.  Hunter made one free throw and Beasley made another three on consecutive possessions to help KSC push the lead back up to 15 at the 17:17 mark after the Spartans had gotten to within 36-25.  Jeric Cichon fed Beasley for another trey a little over two minutes later to keep it a 43-29 game, but the Owl offense sputtered after that, as they were outscored 11-6 over a five minute span and saw their edge whittled down to single-digits (49-40) after Brown's three with 9:45 left.  Anozie scored inside to briefly stop Castleton's push, but the Spartans creeped a little closer a few minutes later, with Dennis LeCours' triple making it 52-45 with still 7:38 to play.  As mentioned, Keene State was able to find enough answers to never be threatened too seriously.  Franklin found Diallo for a three to make it a 10-point lead again and, after two free throws by Amadou Diakite had the visitors within seven at the 5:13 mark, Olson made a jumper and Diallo another long-range shot to make it 60-48 with a little less than four to go.  Leading by nine (60-51) at the 1:51 mark, KSC iced the game for good with a 7-0 run.

Inside the Paint

  • Hunter has 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting, 25 rebounds and nine assists in two games this week, both Owl wins.
  • Keene State wound up shooting 42% on the game, assisting on 20 of 24 field goals.
  • James Anozie scored seven points and is now 13 away from reaching 1,000 for his career.
  • Beasley has scored 42 points over the past three games, making 10-of-18 shots in the process.

Up Next

  • Keene State begins February with a trip to the University of Southern Maine (8-10, 3-7 LEC) on Saturday, February 1 at 3:00 pm.  The Owls moved back into the sixth and final playoff spot in the conference this evening after their win and Eastern Connecticut's 81-79 loss to Western Connecticut, but the first through seven spots in the league remain separated by just two games in the loss column.
  • Castleton returns home to host Rhode Island College (13-6, 6-4 LEC), who has dropped three straight, on the same day at 5:00 pm.