Back-To-Back! Owls Capture Second Straight LEC Tourney Title - Feb 29, 2016
Geissler Gym is turning into a second home for the Keene State College men's basketball team. The Owls won their second consecutive Little East Conference tournament championship with an 86-81 win over UMass Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon.
Keene State: 18-10
UMass Dartmouth: 17-11
The win give Keene State its third tournament championship, and fourth visit to the NCAA tournament. The Owls also won tourney titles in 2004 and 2015, and received an at-large bid in 2007.
Keene State will find out who and where they will play when the selections are announced on Monday at 12:30 p.m. The selection show can be viewed by clicking here: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2016/02/29
Tale of the Tape
Ty Nichols (6'3''-F) came off the bench to lead Keene State with 20 points. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Nate Stitchell (5'8''-PG) added 19, while Matt Ozzella (6'4''-G/F) had 16 and Tre' Tipton (5'11''-PG) had 10.
The Owls held the nation's leading scorer, Jordan Rezendes (6'2''-G), to 22 points on 7-for-18 shooting, eight below his average. Rezendes did not score in the second half. Aven Jones (6'2''-G) netted 18 points for the Corsairs, while Jahleel Moise (6'3''-F) had 12 points and Abi Akanni (6'5''-G/F) 11.
Keene State shot 46% from the field (27-59), and made six of 12 shots from behind the arc. The Owls also knocked down 26 of 35 free throws, helping to offset a 47-37 rebounding advantage for UMass Dartmouth.
First Half Highlights
As in the semifinal against Rhode Island College, the Owls got off to a slow start. Rezendes and Akanni each nailed threes in a game opening 14-2 run over the first 4:35 of the game.
Another three from Rezendes with 12:46 to go boosted the lead to 21-6, before consecutive baskets by Nate Howard (7'0''-C) pulled the Owls within 11.
Keene State began to chip away, as Ozzella converted a three point play with 8:10 left in the half that made it a 28-20 game, and Stitchell was fouled on a three point attempt that dropped, and though he missed the free throw, the lead was down to five.
Rezendes was fouled on a three on the next possession, making all three free throw attempts to restore the lead to eight, and made yet another three with 5:45 to go for a 39-26 lead.
Keene State ended the half on a 21-5 run, with eight of those points coming from Ozzella. His three point play with 1:45 to go put Keene State in front 47-42 for Arinze Obiora (6'5''-F) scored with 29 seconds left in the half.
Second Half Highlights
Akanni and Stitchell traded threes to open the second half, as Keene State never trailed again.
The Corsairs pulled within one on Atakan Akcam (6'5''-F)'s free throw with 6:07 left, but could not get closer.
Back-to-back layups from Nichols, the second of which came with 3:23 to go, gave Keene State a 74-68 lead, and after Mendes got the Corsairs within one a final time with a three point play, Nichols had a three point play of his own to keep it a two possession game with 1:09 left.
The Owls then went 9-for-10 at the foul line in the final minute to seal it.
Courtesy of Little East Conf
LEC Tournament Final: KEENE STATE - UMASS DARTMOUTH 86-81
LEC Tournament Semifinals:
UMASS DARTMOUTH - EASTERN CONNECTICUT 60-55
KEENE STATE - RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE 66-59