KEENE, N.H. - Ty Nichols became the second ever Keene State men's basketball player and third active player overall in Division III to surpass 2,000 career points as the Owls pulled away to thump the University of Southern Maine 80-59 in Saturday afternoon LEC action at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 10-7, 6-3 LEC
- Southern Maine: 4-11, 2-6 LEC
How It Happened
Nichols, as usual, stuffed the stat sheet with 34 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Owls. Paul Mahon made 5-of-9 shots from the floor to score 13 points, while Edwin Ezedonmwen scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep. Miguel Prieto had a game-high seven assists without a turnover to go along with six points and seven rebounds. KSC as a team finished with 17 assists and a 44-31 rebounding advantage. Christian McCue paced USM with 19 points.
The Owls started fast, as a three from Mahon and Nichols' layup helped the home team score six of the first eight points, but Southern Maine hung around as the half progressed despite never leading after the opening minutes. Mahon's putback at the 11:56 mark still had the Owls in front by five (12-7) before USM rattled off five quick points to tie the game. Leading 17-16 with 6:14 left in the half, the Owls turned to Nichols on consecutive possessions, and he buried threes each time to bump KSC's lead out to seven not even 30 seconds later. The home team's leading scorer took over in the waning moments of the half, as he converted inside and made two free throws before another trey in the final minute made it 30-25. Keene State made 5-of-13 threes (39%) in the first 20 minutes, which helped keep them out in front despite shooting just 35% (10-of-29). USM shot 37% (10-of-27).
Prieto scored to open the second half, but Southern Maine tallied the next five in a row and was within 32-30 less than two minutes in. That did not last long, however, as Ezedonmwen buried one of his four second half triples, and Nichols scored his milestone basket on the fast break off a feed from James Anozie as part of a 13-5 run that put KSC ahead 45-35 with 15:35 left. USM stopped the surge for the second with McCue's basket, but the hosts then ran off the next seven points, finished with another Ezedonmwen trey and a Tony Harris layup, for a 15-point lead (52-37) at the 13:02 mark. The closest Southern Maine got after that was 10 (55-45), and when they did, Keene State answered with an immediate 13-0 run which included triples from Mahon and Ezedonmwen. Leading 68-45 with a little over five minutes to go, the Owls had no trouble closing out the contest, as Nichols recorded both varieties of a three-point play and Jeric Cichon scored inside to make it 78-56 with 2:11 on the clock. KSC's offense clicked in the second half, as they rebounded to shoot 54% (19-of-35) from the field while making another six triples.
Inside the Paint
- Nichols now has 2,016 career points and needs just eight more to become the new Keene State men's basketball all-time scoring leader. He, Marcos Echevarria of Nichols College, and Vinny Curta of Grinnell College are the only active Division III players to have surpassed the 2,000 mark. Nichols is the 13th active player to have accomplished the feat across all three divisions of men's basketball.
- Keene State has made double-digit threes in four of their last five games after doing so once previously.
- The Owls split the regular season series with Southern Maine, but they have won five of their last six against the Huskies overall and 38 of 46 all-time.
- KSC remains in third place in the Little East Conference, a half-game behind second place UMass Dartmouth (idle today) and two behind first place Eastern Connecticut (def. Rhode Island College at home, 93-77). They have seven conference games remaining after surpassing the midway point of the LEC schedule today.
- Keene State has their final regular season non-conference game against Colby-Sawyer College on Monday, January 21. Tip-off at Spaulding Gym is at 7:00 pm.
- Southern Maine returns home to host Western Connecticut State University on the same day at 3:00 pm.