An energized crowd packed into the Spaulding Gymnasium on Jan. 16 to watch the undefeated KSC men’s basketball take on Middlebury College.
However, the game ended in the Owls having their undefeated streak snapped, falling 86-82 to the 11th-ranked Panthers. The loss broke an impressive 15-0 start to the season for the Owls, handing them their first defeat of the 2022-23 season.
Entering the game, the Owls ranked fourth in the national rankings for Division III. However, the energy in the building only did so much, as the Owls fell behind after a hot start from Middlebury.
The offense came to life a bit late, as Keene battled back from an early 11-point deficit to tie the game with a little time remaining in the first half. Despite the comeback and momentum swing, the Panthers continued to score at will, thanks to Alex Sobel, who led Middlebury with over 30 points on the night. At the end of the half, Keene State trailed 46- 42,and started the second half looking better offensively. The Owls quickly tied the game at 46, but fell behind soon after. However, no lead was too big for them to overcome, as Keene overcame numerous small deficits to tie the game, and even jumped to as much as a five-point lead once in the second half. Even when momentum was on Keene’s side, Middlebury would not be denied an opportunity to win. The Owls held an 82- 80 lead with under two minutes to play, but could not hang on, as the Panthers scored six unanswered points to sink the Owls, including two made free-throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
Even with the loss, the Owls got great performances from sophomore captain and guard Octavio Brito (25 points), senior captain and forward Jeff Hunter (18 points), and junior guard Nate Siow (18 points). Fifth-year guard Jeric Cichon rounded out Keene State players with ten or more points on the night with ten of his own.
The defeat did not keep the Owls down for long, however. Men’s basketball saw sweeping victories against Castleton on Jan. 18 (102-49) and Southern Maine on Jan. 21 (93-68). The Owls continue conference play for the remainder of the season in the Little East Conference, taking on Plymouth State on Jan. 25 and Rhode Island College (RIC) as part of Coaches vs Cancer Suits & Sneakers week.
Ryan Goodwin can be contacted at