NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - The Keene State College men's basketball team led 54-48 with less than 10 minutes to go, but then surrendered the next 17 consecutive points and eventually lost to UMass-Dartmouth 77-66 in a Little East Conference game Wednesday night at the Tripp Athletic Center.
- Keene State: 8-14, 6-7 LEC
- UMass-Dartmouth: 14-8, 9-4 LEC
How It Happened
The Owls recovered from a slow start to lead by as many as nine points in the opening half, five at halftime, and six with 10 minutes left in regulation, but then saw UMass-Dartmouth go on a 17-0 run and KSC never got closer than nine after that while falling to 2-5 in league road games. In the five defeats, they have averaged 64 points per game, never scoring more than 67. Overall in conference play (13 games), they are averaging just 69 points per game - five lower than their average. They have scored more than 70 away from home in league action just once, in a 19-point win at Plymouth State University. Jaylen Franklin had an efficient shooting performance for the Owls, as he finished with 19 points on 5-of-8 from the floor, 4-of-6 from deep and 5-of-5 at the foul line while adding five rebounds and four assists. James Anozie also scored 19 (7-10 FG, 5-6 FT) and grabbed three rebounds. DeVon Beasley contributed 13 points and Jeff Hunter 10, but KSC shot 33 percent in the second half and 3-of-14 from three-point range after a 52 percent showing (5-of-9 from deep) in the opening 20 minutes. Harry Alexander paced the Corsairs with 18 points and eight rebounds. Marcus Azor had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists as UMD moved a half game ahead of Western Connecticut State University for first place.
Keene State found their footing after trailing 6-0, 10-2 and 14-6, as they rattled off eight consecutive points to tie the game on Beasley's three nearly 10 minutes in, and another triple from him at the 9:24 mark put the Owls in front (17-16) for the first time. A three-point play from Franklin about a minute later made it a four-point edge as KSC led for the remainder of the half, including 32-23 following Hunter's layup with 3:40 left. Overall, the Owls outscored UMass-Dartmouth 26-9 over a 9:22 span to flip the game around, making 9-of-12 shots from the floor during the surge. Another three by Franklin still had Keene State up 35-28 with 2:28 to go until the break, but the Corsairs scored six of the next eight to get within three before Beasley's layup as the half wound down gave the Owls a 39-34 lead heading into the locker room.
Despite scoring just two field goals over the opening five minutes of the second half, Keene State maintained an advantage, as Anozie's bucket at the 15:02 mark still had his team up by the same five-point margin. A long-range make from Sidi Diallo less than two minutes later made it 49-43, and Franklin did the same at the 10:04 mark to match the six-point lead as KSC was up 54-48 with the clock ticking under 10 minutes to go. However, the Owls then did not score until 4:44 remained. Over a span of 4:30, UMass-Dartmouth scored 17 points in a row to turn the six-point hole into an 11-point lead (65-54) with 5:11 on the clock. Two free throws from Anozie with a little less than five minutes left broke KSC's long drought, but Dhalyn Sanders-Dyer immediately made a three on the Corsairs' next trip and the Owls only got within nine points once after that. UMD made just 10-of-21 free throws in the game, including 8-of-15 in the second half, but Keene State was unable to take advantage, as they turned the ball over 22 times - 12 in the second half - and were outscored 22-10 off miscues.
Inside the Paint
- The first matchup between the two teams played out in similar fashion, as Keene State led 43-31 with 18:19 to go only to be outscored 28-6 over the next seven minutes in an eventual 80-77 loss. The Owls had not been swept by the Corsairs in a regular season series since the 2009-2010 season and were 16-6 against them in the past 22 meetings before this season.
- Anozie, Franklin and Hunter combined to make 17 of 24 (71%) shots and 10 of 11 (91%) free throws on the evening.
- Keene State continues to hold on to the sixth and final Little East Conference playoff spot after Eastern Connecticut State University's (5-8 LEC) ironically identical 77-66 loss at Rhode Island College this evening. However, the Owls still have to travel to play the Warriors next week and currently do not hold the tiebreaker. KSC would need some combination of three wins and/or ECSU losses to clinch a spot in the LEC tournament.
- KSC returns home to host Rhode Island College (16-7, 9-5 LEC), who has won three in a row, on Saturday, February 15. Tip-off is at 3:00 pm. The Cheshire Cats jump rope team will perform at halftime.
- UMass-Dartmouth travels to second-place Western Connecticut (14-7, 8-4 LEC) for a key game on the same day and time.