With two and half seconds left on the clock, Ty Nichols sank a three-point shot and the Owls advanced to the next round of the NCAA tournament.
Amherst College’s Jayde Dawson missed a 10-foot shot, but KSC’s Matthew Ozzella grabbed the board and found Nichols. Nichols dribbled it the length of the court before hitting the three just as time ran out. Nichols had 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Ozzella had 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Jeffrey Lunn had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Both teams went back and forth throughout the entire game, and no team had a lead greater than six.
Lucas Hammel took a pair of free throws, giving the Owls the upper hand, 11-9. Amherst took over in the end of the first half, scoring nine straight points, giving them the lead 25-22. They also made consecutive threes, pulling away from the Owls, 35-31.
KSC’s Jake Collagan found the ball and hit a quick three, putting them on top of Amherst, 32-31. With seven seconds left in the first half, Amherst hit the net, giving them a two-point advantage, but Nichols knocked in a three just before the sound of the buzzer went off, 35-33, KSC.
Amherst came out strong in the second half going on an 8-2 run, giving them the lead, 41-37. Amherst continued to bring it and sank another three, increasing the lead 48-44 with 12:15 remaining. Nichols converted another three-point play on the Owls’ next possession. Every chance Amherst had to pull away, the Owls were trailing right behind them. Two layups from Amherst gave them a four-point advantage over Keene State, but Ozzella hit five straight points, including a three with 7:26 left in the game, tying it at 56. Ozzella scored again to grab the lead with 5:49 left on the clock.
The two teams continued to shoot back and forth baskets in the last five minutes of the game. Amherst tied the game at 61 with a three-point shot. They continued to excel with a dunk and a free throw, giving them a 64-61 lead. KSC responded right back, gaining a free throw from Ozzella and two more from Hammel to tie the score up yet again. Amherst’s jumper and then two more from Hammel tied the score gain at 66. With just seconds before the buzzer, Nichols’ three would end the game and move them on in the tournament. The Owls played the following day, March 4, against Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Collagan hit a three-point shot with 45 seconds left to go on the clock, as Keene State College’s men’s basketball team upset Ramapo College and continued on to the Sweet 16.
With three starters fouling out, the Owls survived Ramapo College and continued on to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row and the fourth time in school history.
Nichols scored a career-high of 32 points, with seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Ozzella added 22 points and 12 boards. Jaquel Edwards had 16 points and Jimmy Layman came off the bench with eight rebounds.
Ramapo came out of the first half strong, having an 8-0 lead. Keene State quickly reacted with an 18-2 run.
A pair of free throws from Ozzella continued to lead the Owls 18-12 with 13:32 left in the half. Ramapo responded just as quick, outscoring the Owls 16-6. Ramapo continued their shots and took a 37-32 lead at the half.
Ramapo continued to increase their lead, pulling away from the Owls. With back-to-back baskets and a pair of free throws, Ramapo was up 51-40 with 14:27 left on the clock. Layman sank a three, igniting the Owls.
Edwards hit a three-pointer of his own, and Ozzella converted a three-point play before hitting a three of his own as well. With less than three minutes to go in the game, the Owls cut the lead to just one. Edwards pushed the Owls into overtime with a layup that fell through the net with just .02 seconds left on the clock.
An extra five minutes was added to the clock for overtime. Ramapo opened up with two three-point shots, giving them the lead, 91-89, just before Nichols and Collagan ended the game.
Nichols fed the ball to Collagan as he sank his second field goal of the game with 45.6 seconds left in OT.
Ramapo missed two shots in the last 30 seconds, while Nichols grabbed the final rebound of the game.
Keene State will match up against the No. 2 Christopher Newport University Friday, March 10 at Babson College.
Shelby Iava can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org