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After a long season with many records being broken, the Keene State’s Men’s Basketball journey has ended.
The Owls faced the Moravian College Greyhounds in the first round of the 2019 NCAA tournament this past Friday night. The Owls had 24 turnovers and lost the game with a score of 65-84.
All-time leading scorer Ty Nichols ended the game with 30 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. James Anozie had ten points and two rebounds.
The Greyhounds took the lead at the start of the game, 10-6. The Owls tied the game at the 14:23 mark to make it 13-13. The Owls then took the biggest lead of the game after Kyle Santoro had a triple to make it 27-22. But the Greyhounds came back and made eight points in less than two minutes to take back the lead. The Greyhounds ended the first half with the a lead of 45-38. The Owls had 17 turnovers in the first half.
Just over a minute into the start of the second half, Anozie made a bucket to put the score 45-41. But the Owls went scoreless for the next seven minutes as the Greyhounds made 18 points. At the 16:14 mark, the Greyhounds had a 13 point lead over the Owls, which was the biggest lead of the game at that point. Sophomore Miguel Prieto for the Owls missed a layup at the 15:18 mark. At the 12:51 mark The Greyhounds CJ Barnes had a steal and made a three. With 12:21 left in the game the Owls were down 63-41. At the 10:05 mark, Nichols was fouled but missed his first free throw at the line but made his second one. An opportunity opened for the Owls as Prieto took the ball and went for a three but missed. He tried to go for a rebound but missed as well. Frustration was everywhere for the Owls as time kept passing by. Nichols shook his head when he went up to the line for a free throw at the 8:23 mark. He made both shots in to make the score 67-48. Nichols had a layup at the 6:37 mark to put the score up 77-62. Just under the four minute mark, Owl Kyle Santoro had a triple to make the score 77-62 but the Greyhounds’ Will Brazuka made a three to put the score up 80-62. With just under two minutes to go Nichols was taken out, which was the last time he walked off as an Owl. The game ended with the Owls having seven turnovers in the second half.
Head Coach Ryan Cain gave credit to the Greyhounds. “We turned it over too much. Credit to them, it was their pressure. It felt like we were prepared for it going in, but obviously I don’t think we did enough to be ready for it. Then it was guarding the three-point line. Obviously, they have guys that are tremendous shooters and they found some space and got in transition to get some looks. Credit to them for the pace they play with and the stuff they ran to get the looks that they got,” Cain said.
Cain also gives credit at how far his team has come despite not doing too well at the start of the season. “Just a tremendous group of guys. When it came to this team, at one point this year we were 8-7, and I think there was a lot of reflection that took place during those stretches. The ability to look internally at some of the things we needed to do better and some of the things as a team we needed to do to be successful, everybody as a group really bought into that. They were totally on board with it and the relationships among player to player, coach to coach, coach to player, whatever it was, they developed into such strong relationships. It felt like everybody was playing for each other,” Cain said.
Cain got emotional when it came talking about Nichols. Cain shed tears as he said, “It’s a very difficult time… how proud I am of Ty, obviously as a player… [He] grew so much on the court from that freshman that was primarily right handed… to a guy that I really view as the best player in the country that’s tremendous, that’s great, and he deserves everything individually that comes his way, he’s worked hard so our team has been successful… The way this young man has turned himself into a role model, the guy he is now is not the guy that walked into this program; that’s what I’m most proud of. I think he’s going to be tremendous professional, I think he has a long basketball career ahead of him. I think when he comes back, people in his community should look up to him, should really look up based on where he was and how he grew and what athletics did to him.”
LEC player of the year Nichols thanked Cain for everything he’d done for him on and off the court and wishes the team nothing but the best for the future. “We had a really good season this year. We have a lot of young guys on this team, so they’re going to be very good next year and I’m going to support them as much as I can. They’re going to return a good group and they’ve got a good group coming in. I think they will come back ready to go and this is going to motivate them for the future,” Nichols said.
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