Owl men pull away from Southern Maine behind Martin 79-60
GORHAM, MAINE 1/7/12 – Playing down the road from his home in Wayne, Maine and in front of family and friends provided a little extra incentive for junior guard Ryan Martin, who scored a career and game-high 28 points to lead the Keene State College Owls to a 79-60 win over the University of Southern Maine Huskies in a Little East Conference men's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium in Gorham, Maine.
"I know a lot of people were coming to watch me play today," said Martin, who also collected six rebounds, five assists and two steals in the game. "It's exciting when you play in front of people who have watched you growing up. It gives you plenty of incentive to have a big game."
The Owls, who have won two straight since returning from the break, improve to 9-3 on the season and remain undefeated in conference play at 3-0. KSC joins Western and Eastern Conn. as the only remaining undefeated teams in the LEC. The Huskies drop their fourth straight game to fall to 6-6 overall and are still looking for their first win in conference action at 0-3.
Holding a slim 40-39 advantage with 15:56 on the clock in the second half, Keene State used a quick 12-2 run over the next minute and 40 seconds to grab control of the game and lead the Huskies 52-41 with 14:16 on the clock. Martin scored five of his 28 points in the run, including a rare four-point play, while junior center Rashad Wright (Agawam, Mass.) added eight points.
Martin said he's trying to lead by example on the court. "We have a little bit of a new look and some guys aren't used to playing that many minutes, so I'm trying to step up my game," he said.
The Huskies continued to fight however, and pulled to within six of the Owls, 59-56, following a lay-up from sophomore guard Brandon Tomah (Princeton, Maine) off of a steal from senior guard Brian Alexander (Bradenton, Fla.) with just under 10 minutes in the half.
But the Owls put the brakes on any thoughts of a USM come-back bid with a 14-2 run over the next five and a half minutes to lead 73-55 with 3:58 to play. Martin again pushed the play for Keene scoring eight of its points in the run, including a perfect 6-for-6 mark from the free throw line.
From there the Owls outscored USM 6-5 down the stretch for the 79-60 final.
"I thought we started to run a little bit better in the second half and put together some stops," said KSC Coach Rob Colbert. "But 24 turnovers aren't going to get it done, so I'm concerned about our ability to hold on to the basketball."
Both teams were fairly equal from the field with Keene shooting 44.4 percent (28-for-63) and the Huskies shooting 43.6 percent (24-for-55) but the Owls held a distinct advantage on the free throw line. The Owls made 20 of 24 attempts (83.3 percent) compared to the Huskies 9-for-24 effort (37.5 percent).
Martin finished the game 7-for-14 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free throw line. Wright finished with 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Southern Maine sophomore guard Conor Sullivan (Scarborough, Maine) led the Huskies with 14 points. Tomah, junior guard Alex Kee (Bath, Maine) and senior forward Jeremy Jackson (Laplace, La.) each scored nine points. Jackson led all rebounders with 10.
Keene State hosts Western Connecticut on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.)
(Portions of the story courtesy USM Sports Information)