GORHAM, Maine - After trailing for nearly the entire game, the Keene State College men's basketball team erased a 12-point deficit in the final minutes of the second half and had a chance to win, but wound up falling in overtime 85-81 to the University of Southern Maine at Hill Gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
- Keene State: 6-6, 2-2 LEC
- Southern Maine: 4-8, 2-3 LEC
How It Happened
Ty Nichols finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and four assists for Keene State, one of four double-figure scorers. Miguel Prieto tallied 22 points, five rebounds and four assists, while James Anozie finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Edwin Ezedonmwen 10 points and seven rebounds. USM, who had lost five straight, got 23 points off the bench from Jayvon Pitts-Young and 19 points from Christian McCue.
Keene State scored the opening basket of the contest, but Southern Maine then made a triple on three straight possessions to go ahead 9-2 and never trailed again. Ezedonmwen made a deep shot of his own as the Owls cut the deficit to 11-9 at the 15:11 mark, and later tied the game at 13 on Nichols' two free throws. KSC was still within 27-25 with 6:38 left in the opening half, but USM took command after that, as McCue made a jumper and a layup for a 35-28 lead. Consecutive threes in the final two minutes extended the Huskies' lead to 45-32, and the home team led 47-36 at halftime. USM shot 50% in the half and made 7-of-18 threes while forcing 11 Keene State turnovers.
The Owls came out of the locker room and outscored Southern Maine 16-7 over the first 6:16, capped by two layups from Prieto, to get within two (54-52), but USM scored five quick points following a timeout to restore the lead to seven. Leading 63-58 with 10:33 to go, the Huskies pulled away, as two free throws from Kylani Lafleur made it 67-58, and Pitts-Young's three made it 70-60 with 8:20 on the clock. Southern Maine appeared to be well in control with just over four minutes left and a 74-62 lead, but Keene State held them scoreless the rest of the way to finish regulation on a 12-0 run to force overtime. Layups from Nichols, Anozie, and Prieto in quick succession chopped the deficit to five (74-69) with 2:11 to go and, later, a triple from Prieto and two from the charity stripe for Nichols made it a new game at 74-74 with 37 seconds to go. After Southern Maine missed a pair of layups, KSC had a chance to steal the game in the final seconds, but could not capitalize. The Owls' defense tightened after halftime as the Huskies shot just 28% and were outscored 38-27. Keene State quickly fell behind by five in the extra session, but fought back to tie (81-81) after a pair of Nichols baskets with 3:15 remaining. A USM turnover gave KSC another chance for a lead, but a three was off the mark and Pitts-Young scored on the other end for an 83-81 lead. The Owls missed their last five shots and had two turnovers in the final 2:48 as Southern Maine held on for the win.
Inside the Paint
- Both teams shot 42% in the contest, as KSC made 29-of-69 overall and USM 32-of-76. However, the Owls were outscored by 21 from three, with the Huskies connecting on 11-of-33 (33%) from long range and the Owls a season-low 4-of-17 (24%).
- Keene State had won their previous four games overall against Southern Maine (and 37 of 45 all-time), but is just 1-3 in their last 4 visits to Gorham.
- Prieto has scored in double-figures in 10 of 12 games this season, including over 20 points twice. He has shot 51% (36-of-70) in the last six games.
- The Owls have allowed at least 80 points in nine of 12 games this season while averaging 85.7 themselves.
- Keene State will look to get back on the right track on Tuesday, January 8 when they visit Plymouth State University (4-1 LEC) for a 7:30 pm tip-off.
- Southern Maine entertains Western Connecticut State University on the same day at 5:00 pm.