The Keene State Owls traveled to Babson College for their rematch against Christopher Newport University (CNU). However, the Owls did not have the same outcome as they did last year. The Owls trumped CNU 68-64 Friday, March 10.
Senior Jeffrey Lunn led the Owls with 20 points and eight rebounds. Fellow senior Matthew Ozzella had 14 points, senior Lucas Hammel had 15 and sophomore Ty Nichols had 11.
CNU had the upper hand early on. Marcus Carter, the junior All-American, sank a three for a 9-3 lead. Christopher Newport sank another three to increase their lead, 14-7.
Keene State kept up with CNU, getting within four, when Ozzella converted a three-point play with only 10 minutes remaining on the clock. Christopher Newport responded quickly and kept their lead 21-12.
Ozzella hit a pair of threes in two minutes. He also added a layup in-between, tying the game at 24. Christopher Newport had a 12-4 run over the remaining time in the half, giving them an eight-point lead.
CNU hit a fadeaway three to beat the shot clock, and Justin Hampton of CNU hit away Nichols’ layup at the sound of the buzzer with CNU on top 45-33.
Nichols converted a three-point play with 18 minutes left in the second half. CNU continued their lead with three baskets.
Keene State was able to get within five on Jimmy Layman’s jumper. CNU had an offensive foul against the Owls and Hammel stepped up to the line.
Hammel made both of the baskets and brought the Owls within three points. Jaquel Edwards made a basket with 10:43 left to bring the game within one.
Lunn hit two free throws with 9:46 left on the clock, giving the Owls their first lead of the entire game.
After that set of free throws, the game went cold, and there were no points scored until the 7:29 mark on the clock. Christopher Newport missed six straight free throws.
Lunn made two more free throws with 4:49 left on the clock. CNU answered quickly with a three from the right corner and tied the game at 58 with 4:30 left on the clock.
The Owls and the Captains went back and forth, but CNU was on top by one. Lunn managed to bring the Owls back on top, 62-62. Nichols made a basket with 31 seconds left for a 64-61 lead.
Hammel sank a pair of free throws, which put KSC up by five.
CNU missed a three, but grabbed a rebound and hit a fadeaway triple to cut the lead 66-64 with six seconds left on the clock. Nichols hit two free throws, securing the Owls’ win.
The Owls advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004.
The first half of the game was a constant back and forth battle between Keene State and Babson College. Both teams tied up the game at least five times.
With 6:22 left on the clock, the Babson Beavers received their biggest lead of the game with a 10-point advantage, 38-28, Babson.
Lunn grabbed back-to-back baskets, bringing the Owls within five.
Nichols converted a three-point play with .53 left on the clock shortening Babson’s lead to two. Babson responded with a three right before the sound of the buzzer at the half. Babson was up 51-46.
The Owls would only come as close as seven in the second half, 69-62, after a layup from Lunn. Babson ignited an 18-4 run to pull away from the Owls.
The Owls got no closer than 17 points the rest of the game. Nichols sank a three with 3:10 left to go.
Nichols led the Owls with 21 points, while Lunn had 14 points and six rebounds. Hammel chipped in 17 points and Ozzella had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Ozzella became the fifth player in school history to have over 1,200 points and 700 rebounds in his career, joining Tyler Kathan, Dave Terry, Al Hicks and Chris Coates.
Shelby Iava can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org