Kayla Barrett / Photo Editor

Men’s basketball opened up their 2022-23 campaign with a win on Tuesday, Nov. 8 over Westfield State, and head coach Ryan Cain was confident in his group going into Friday’s game against Rutgers University-Newark.

“Our goal is to try and win every game, try to get into the NCAA Tournament, make a run and win a national championship,” Cain said. ”Getting back to the LEC Championship game and winning another LEC conference tournament, that’s kind of a stepping stone goal when it comes to ultimately reaching that bigger goal that we’ve set for our program.”

The Owls’ quest for another successful season began on the right note Friday, Nov. 11 with a 102-66 thumping of the Scarlet Raiders.

The energy could be felt from the opening as the Owls honored their 2015-16 team that reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, as well as the 2016-17 squad that reached the Elite 8.

That pent-up energy erupted into a great start from the Owls, who seemingly couldn’t miss a shot in the first half especially. Keene State led 16-2 just a few minutes in and frustration quickly mounted for the visiting Rutgers Newark

The rest of the evening the Owls never looked back and never came close to trailing. Sophomore guard and captain Octavio Brito recorded a career-high 32 points, which included some electric dunks as well as three-pointers, which almost always seemed to go in.

The Owls went to halftime with a commanding 58-32 lead, and out of the break would score nine unanswered, a parallel to their hot start from the tip-off. They would the Scarlet Raiders in the second half as well, 44-34, and broke 100 points before the night was over.

Aside from Brito, the Owls saw energetic performances from junior guard Nate Siow and junior guard Mason Jean-Baptiste, who combined for 37 points in the win. The next challenge for the Owls comes with a road trip beginning next Friday, Nov. 18, as they will play Maryville College at the Great Lakes Invitational in Crawfordsville, Ind. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time Zone (ET).

Ryan Goodwin can be contacted at
rgoodwin@kscequinox.com

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