GORHAM, Maine - The University of Southern Maine jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the opening seven minutes, never trailed, and eventually ran away from the cold-shooting Keene State College men's basketball team 72-63 in a Little East Conference game at Hill Gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
- Keene State: 7-13, 5-6 LEC
- Southern Maine: 9-10, 4-7 LEC
How It Happened
Keene State's brief two-game winning streak was snapped following a 32 percent (22-of-69) shooting performance, the second lowest output of the season. The Owls also made just 7-of-26 (27 percent) from long-range and converted 17 offensive rebounds into 11 points. Edwin Ezedonmwen finished with 16 points, two rebounds and two assists off the bench, while fellow reserve Jaylen Franklin had 13 points, two rebounds and two assists. Jeff Hunter grabbed 10 rebounds. Jacobe Thomas led Southern Maine with a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double (7-14 FG, 7-7 FT). He also added four steals, three assists and a block. Derek Haney (16 points) and Keenan Hendricks (14 points) were also in double-figures for the Huskies, who have won back-to-back games after losing four of six.
The Owls scored two points over the opening 7:10 and, aside from a late first half surge that turned a 21-10 deficit into a three-point game at the break, that set the tone for most of the afternoon as KSC fell to 2-4 in conference road games. Keene State got consecutive layups from Ezedonmwen and Franklin to get within 11-6 at the 12:18 mark, but then saw Southern Maine get triples from Cody Hawes and Hendricks to go up 11 (17-6) nearly halfway through the period. Trailing 21-10, KSC got a three from Tony Harris and a layup from Quinton Sneed-Lott to get back within six, but USM's DJ Anderson immediately made a triple on the next possession, and the home team eventually was back up 28-17 after Thomas' layup with 3:46 to go. The Owls seemed to get back in the game over the remainder of the half, as they scored seven straight points in less than two minutes to make it 28-24 and later got three free throws from DeVon Beasley with less than a minute left in the half to get within 30-27, which it remained at the break.
A steal by Hunter and a drive to the bucket by Miguel Prieto on the opening possession of the second half got KSC even closer, within 30-29, but the Owl hope was fleeting, as they then mustered just four points over the next 6:21 while falling back into a double-digit hole, 44-33, after Jaire Roberts' layup at the 14:29 mark. The 14-4 burst for Southern Maine was only the beginning, as they then scored 13 of the next 16 points to go up 57-36. In that second run, which concluded with a three-point play by Thomas, KSC went 1-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-2 at the foul line. USM's lead continued to swell, reaching a game-high 23 - their second largest lead all season and biggest since November 16 - following two Thomas free throws with 5:47 left. Trailing 68-45 with a little less than five minutes remaining, KSC scored 13 consecutive points to get within 10, but it was too late, and they never got closer than that until a layup in the final seconds.
Inside the Paint
- Hunter has three consecutive double-digit rebounding games and has recorded at least seven rebounds in seven of the last eight games.
- James Anozie will need 11 points on Wednesday night to reach the 1,000 career point mark.
- Keene State is 39-9 all-time against the Huskies, but has lost in four of their last five trips to Maine.
- The Owls shot 52 percent (171-of-331) as a team in the first five games of the season, but are shooting 40 percent (385-of-952) since, including seven games below that number.
- Keene State, who is holding on to the sixth and final playoff spot, hosts Plymouth State University (12-7, 6-4 LEC) on Wednesday, February 5 (7:30 pm) for Red & White Faculty/Staff/Alumni Night sponsored by the Barnes & Noble Bookstore.
- Southern Maine goes to Rhode Island College (13-7, 6-5 LEC), who has dropped four games in a row, on the same night.