Facing the number one team in the country? No problem for the Keene State College men’s basketball team.
The team faced Middlebury College in hopes of giving them their first season upset.
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The Owls fought hard until the end, eventually beating Middlebury 77-76.
The packed gymnasium was up in arms as the final buzzer rang. The team cheered and the fans rushed the court waiting to congratulate them.
“The fans support was unbelievable! You don’t get tired naturally because everyone was behind us supporting us and helped us pull it off in the end,” team leader, Ryan Martin, said.
The crowd was certainly alive last night in the Spaulding Gymnasium.
Students, parents, and fans alike walked in to an excited environment surrounded by cheerleaders, dancers, reporters, and even newspapers.
Even The Equinox came in handy during the game.
Students seated in the bleachers held up a page of The Equinox whenever Middlebury College went to take a foul shot.
Many chants were heard from the crowd including, “Pants on backwards,” and “You can’t do that!”
KSC sophomore Derek Marchione said, “We know they feed off the crowd’s energy. They play off of that up tempo style. We had to do it for them because we knew it was the number one team in the country.”
“They played awesome! It’s a crazy environment. We had to come out here and support them. We knew they were playing the number one team in the county, we just had to come out, get them ready and get them hyped up. Thankfully they played well,” Marchione said.
“That’s one of the reasons I went to the game, because I wanted to see all of the excitement. Going, I couldn’t believe how many people were there. When the game started and everyone grabbed the newspaper when the other team was announced, it was great,” senior Elyse Lacarte said.
Lecarte continued, “The people I sat around, the humor, the fun, the joking. It was nice to just be able to go and support out team. You could see the enthusiasm that the team had just because of the being there. You could tell we motivated them.”
Cheerleading captain and KSC junior Jenna Recko said, “I know talking to the boys, they love a huge crowd like that and it really gets them hyped up. Especially since we go to away games sometimes and we bring a small crowd with us and I know they get excited when they go to away games and to have a huge crowd here I think it definitely helped them tonight.”
Despite having the challenge of playing the number one team in the country, the men’s basketball team had the perfect strategy to win the game.
“It’s great! We were pretty excited coming into this game. We knew it was a good opportunity for us. Not every college team has the chance to upset the number one team in the county, and we just took advantage of our opportunity,” Martin said.
“We just played harder than them (Middlebury). Our backs were against the wall and we were down 10 with around five minutes left. We could have easily folded but we stuck together and we just played tough down the stretch.”
Pulling an upset against a number one ranked team Keene State is now (3-2) against nationally ranked teams this season.
This is the first time KSC has faced a number one team since it was a Division II program when it was beaten by Bridgeport during the 1992-93 season.
“It’s literally the most exciting thing that’s happened to the basketball team, and exciting for us to cheer for since I have been here over the past three years. It’s definitely a huge accomplishment for the team,” Recko said.
“I thought overall the men’s basketball team worked really well with each other. You could definitely tell that there was a lot of team spirit. You could tell the fans really brought that of the team. It’s almost like we were all kind of trying to make history,” Lacarte said.
Keene State finished the game with a score of 77-76, and their winning streak is continuing to grow.
They recently had their eighth straight win against the University of Southern Maine on Feb. 4, a record high for KSC.
With their record high winning streak, KSC hopes to defeat the only team in their division they lost to in an upcoming game.
The Owls are hoping to redeem themselves when they face Western Connecticut State on Saturday, Feb. 11.
After that they are facing Eastern Connecticut State and Rhode Island College.
Lauren Campbell can be contacted at email@example.com