KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College women's basketball team went the opening 5:26 of the fourth quarter without a point and watched Western Connecticut State University extend a two-point lead to 15 in an eventual 70-57 Little East Conference loss on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 7-18, 6-10 LEC
- Western Connecticut: 9-16, 4-12 LEC
How It Happened
In a game that saw neither team led by more than six points over the first three quarters, Keene State was once again bitten by a prolonged fourth quarter drought, as Western Connecticut turned a 52-50 game into a 65-50 game over the opening 4:34 of the final 10 minutes and the Owls never recovered, as they were outscored 18-7 in the period and made just 3-of-17 shots while committing six turnovers. Hailey Derosia paced KSC with a 14-point effort on 6-of-13 shooting. She added four assists, four steals and two rebounds. Jordyn Burke made 6-of-8 shots and scored 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and five steals. Kenzie Bennett and Arianna Hebert each chipped in nine points, but Keene State turned the ball over 28 times, allowed 15 offensive rebounds and shot just 5-of-22 from the three-point arc. The Owls won the first meeting between the teams in Danbury after a big fourth quarter, but Western Connecticut won for at Spaulding Gym for the second straight time since getting pummeled 95-79 in 2017. Gabrielle Hurlbert led the Colonials with 16 points (6-14 FG, 4-10 3-PT), five assists and three rebounds. Katelyn Fanning and Jasmine Caldwell both added 11 points for WCSU, who finished in eighth place in the league standings.
It was a back-and-forth contest right away, as Western scored five of the first seven points before the Owls hit back with a 6-0 run of their own for an 8-5 edge after layups by Burke and Derosia nearly halfway through the first quarter. KSC then allowed a 9-2 burst over the next four minutes and trailed 14-10 at the 1:28 mark before rallying to lead by one (15-14) after one. The second quarter was all Colonials early on, as a three by Hurlbert and layup by Fanning on consecutive possessions highlighted a 7-0 run that game the visitors a 21-15 edge at the 5:56 mark. Lola Herman's triple a few minutes later kept WCSU's lead at six, but KSC retook the lead thanks to their seniors, as Kenzie Bennett made a layup and Hien Thach a triple on back-to-back possessions in the final 1:29 to make it 30-29. The Colonials took a halftime lead after Samantha Garcia canned a trey of her own with 29 seconds to go. Keene State made 7-of-13 shots (54%) in the quarter, but was outscored 18-15.
The second half started with much of the same, as the Owls continued to hang around but mostly play from behind, as Hurlbert's long-range make less than two minutes in put her team up 36-32. It was still a four-point Colonial lead at the 7:25 mark, but KSC then held them scoreless for nearly the next four minutes and nudged ahead 40-38 after Bennett connected twice from three. The Owl lead was eventually 44-41 after consecutive buckets from Burke and Hebert with 2:50 to go, but WestConn responded with a 7-0 run that took 46 seconds to go from down three to up four (48-44). Hebert made three of four foul shots in the final 33 seconds to give Keene State two separate one-point leads, but Susana Almeida made it 52-50 Colonials through three after beating the buzzer with a trey.
The Owls slipped down the hill rapidly in the final 10 minutes, as they did not notch their first points of the fourth quarter until 4:34 remained and they trailed 65-50. Overall, Western Connecticut scored 16 consecutive points after trailing for the final time at 50-49. Jasmine Caldwell and Fanning combined for 10 of their team's 18 points in the stanza. KSC scored just seven. The closest the Owls came after WestConn's opening surge was 12 after Abby Grandmaison connected from three at the 3:17 mark, but they missed their next three shots after that and Fanning connected on a three to make it 70-55 with 1:20 left.
Inside the Paint
- The teams were nearly identical shooting from the field and exactly the same from the foul line, but Western Connecticut made 12-of-34 threes and KSC 5-of-22. The Colonials, who were 2-10 in their previous 12 games, had not made that many triples in a game since connecting 14 times in a 69-51 win at Plymouth State University on February 1.
- KSC had 10 offensive rebounds, but was unable to convert any of those into second chance points and was outscored 10-0 in such opportunities.
- Before the game, Keene State honored seniors Hien Thach and Kenzie Bennett for their contributions to the program.
- KSC was locked into the No. 6 seed before today's game, but now knows their Little East Conference tournament quarterfinal opponent. The Owls will travel to play third-seeded Castleton University on Tuesday, February 25 for a contest that starts at 6:00 pm. The Spartans won both regular season meetings, winning the conference opener in Vermont 56-54 after Keene State missed several chances to tie or take the lead down the stretch before a 54-36 victory in the second matchup. CU enters the tournament off a 67-55 home loss to Eastern Connecticut State University, who took the regular season title with the victory.
- Western Connecticut's season is over. They have not had a winning record since 2016-2017.