KEENE, NH – Playing without the services of its leading scorer, Tyler Rowe (East Hartford, CT), the WestConn men's basketball team was downed at Little East Conference opponent Keene State, 84-71, on Saturday afternoon at Spaulding Gym. With the loss, the Colonials dropped to 12-10 overall and 7-4 in league play, while the Owls improved to 16-7 and 10-2.
Junior forward Rashard Rodriguez (Trumbull, CT) paced the visitors with team-highs of 15 points and six rebounds, while rookie guard Legend Johnson (Waterbury, CT) contributed 12 points on five-for-eight shooting from the field.
Junior forward Ty Nichols (Springfield, MA) led the hosts with game-highs of 17 points, six assists and four steals, while rookie guard DeVon Beasley (Andover, MA) added 15 points via five shots from beyond the arc. Three other players would also notch double figures for the Owls.
The contest was close much of the first half. The Colonials earned the largest lead when Johnson sank a free throw after being hacked on jumper, good for the three-point play to put the visitors up, 25-18, with 4:52 to go before the break.
The Owls responded to capture a 32-31 advantage when Beasley knocked down a trifecta off a feed from senior guard Dizel Wright (Springfield, MA). However, the Colonials answered when Johnson stole the ball and converted a layup, regaining a 32-31 lead just before halftime.
Keene would blow the game wide-open midway through the second half with a 24-4 run. Trailing 48-45, Nichols stole the ball and found Wright for a tally to spark the spurt with 12:15 left on the clock. Shortly thereafter, the Owls regained a 49-48 lead when Nichols zipped a pass from the top of the key to rookie center James Anozie (Poughkeepsie, NY) underneath for an easy layup. Anozie would finish off the barrage as he gathered a loose ball from under the basket and powered in a layup, giving the Owls a 69-52 lead with 6:30 remaining.
The Owls would stretch the lead to as much as a 20-point advantage before Colonial sophomore sharpshooter Evan Curtin (Portland, CT) sank a jumper to round the scoring out at 84-71.
"We hung in there," said WestConn head coach Jason Harlow following the loss. "That spurt midway through the second half was just something we couldn't recover from," he added.
WestConn will look to rebound when they meet visiting LEC foe Rhode Island College on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The game was originally slated for last week but was postponed due to treacherous weather conditions.