KEENE, N.H. - James Anozie became the 37th member of the Keene State College men's basketball 1,000-point club, and DeVon Beasley poured in a career-high seven threes and 25 points as the Owls recovered to knock off Little East Conference rival Plymouth State University 83-77 in overtime after seeing a 17-point second half lead vanish in the final 10 minutes Wednesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 8-13, 6-6 LEC
- Plymouth State: 12-8, 6-5 LEC
How It Happened
Keene State shot 52 percent in the opening half while building a 17-point advantage, then eventually led by that same margin with 9:32 to go, but ultimately needed to pull through in overtime to snap Plymouth's six-game winning streak, which was their longest since the 2015-2016 season. Beasley torched the net with a 7-for-14 three-point shooting performance while scoring his 25 points. Anozie finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor and 2-of-2 from the foul line, which was where he scored his 1,000th with 12:02 to go. Sidi Diallo was also in double-figures with 11 points (3-6 FG), while Jeff Hunter grabbed 14 more rebounds and added seven points, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Ben Olson had nine rebounds, eight points and four assists as KSC won for the third time in the past four games and gained ground for the sixth and final playoff spot in the conference after Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Southern Maine both lost. Dante Rivera led Plymouth State with 18 points (6-17 FG), seven rebounds, two steals and one assist. Jaylen LeRoy added in 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Owls raced out to an 8-0 lead in less than four minutes after Jaylen Franklin and Beasley each connected from long-distance, and that set the tone for most of the first half, as a run of six more points in a row - both inside and out - for Beasley made it an 18-7 KSC advantage not even nine minutes in. The Owls were not done, as they piled on another burst, this one 13-7 over the next 4:20, and extended the lead to 17 (31-14) with 7:33 to go until halftime. Manny Sanchez canned a three about two minutes later to bring the Panthers back within 33-23, but as soon as that happened, KSC rattled off the next seven, culminating with another three by Beasley and a layup by Olson, who finished off a nice pass by Hunter. Trailing 40-23 with 2:10 left, Plymouth stayed within reach after closing the half with a 9-2 run that included Rivera's buzzer-beating three.
Behind 42-32 out of the locker room, the Panthers chopped the deficit to six not even two minutes into the second half, but could not get any closer for the moment as, who else, Beasley, connected from distance to make it 45-36. Consecutive buckets inside from Hunter made it a 13-point game with 15:25 to go, and KSC appeared to be well in control again after two free throws by Anozie, the first of which put him in select company as the latest 1,000 point scorer, made it 55-38 at the 12:02 mark. A free throw by Diallo with a little less than 10 minutes to go still had KSC on top 57-40, but the Owl advantage shrunk fast, as a triple by Bryton Early with still 6:49 to play capped off Plymouth's 14-3 sprint to make it a six-point game again. Even still, Keene State seemed to have answers, as Olson and Diallo scored on the ensuing two trips, and eventually Diallo elevated for a thunderous dunk that made it 68-58 with 5:07 remaining. Ahead by eight with less than four minutes to go, KSC could not hold on, and actually fell behind for the first time all game (71-70) after Rivera's jumper at the 1:26 mark. Plymouth had tied the game with a 9-0 surge that took less than two minutes. Trailing by one, the Owls came up empty on their next possession and then allowed the Panthers an offensive rebound with 23 seconds to go before fouling LeRoy, who put PSU up 73-70 four seconds later. Keene State struggled mightily from the free throw line and committed nine turnovers in the second half, but had one more chance and made the most of it, as they went to the hot-hand Beasley, who drained a contested three to tie the game with 4.6 on the clock. After a PSU timeout, the Panthers missed a chance to win after Rivera's running three was well off the mark.
Tony Harris made two free throws in the initial 1:23 of overtime to put the Owls in front again, and that is where the home team stayed for good, as they held Plymouth without a field goal in the extra session. Harris found Anozie down low for a 77-73 lead with 2:43 left, and a little over a minute later, Beasley drained big triple to make it a six-point KSC cushion. A pair of Owl turnovers that led to three Panther free throws over the next 46 seconds kept the visitors with hope, trailing 80-77 with 42 ticks left, but PSU missed all four of their shots after that and Keene State did enough from the charity stripe to ensure the victory.
Inside the Paint
- KSC shot 47 percent (26-of-56) in the game and Plymouth 36 percent (23-of-64), but the Panthers were far better at the foul line, making 24-of-30 compared to the Owls' 22-of-37.
- Beasley has scored in double-figures in four of the past five games, having knocked down 17-of-34 triples in that span. He is averaging 15.2 points per game since January 25 and has also gotten to the foul line 28 times.
- Anozie is the 37th Owl to reach 1,000 career points. Ty Nichols '19, the program's all-time leading scorer, was the most recent to do so.
- Keene State has won four straight and 38 of 56 all-time against Plymouth State.
- The Owls have a week off before their next contest at UMass-Dartmouth (13-7, 8-3 LEC) on Wednesday, February 12. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm.
- Plymouth State hosts the same Corsairs on Saturday (February 8) at 3:00 pm.