2017 Little East Conference Quarterfinal: No. 2 Keene State Defeats No. 7 Southern Maine 87-70

Senior James Starks led all scorers with 26 points.
Senior James Starks led all scorers with 26 points.

KEENE, N.H.   –  Sophomore Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) posted a double-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to lead five players in double figures as the second-seed Keene State College Owls defeated seventh-seed University of Southern Maine Huskies 87-70 in a Little East Conference men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game Tuesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.

            With the win, Keene State advances to the semifinals of the 2017 Little East Conference men's basketball championship, and improves to 18-8.  Southern Maine concludes its season at 10-16.

            Nichols was 4-for-13 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free throw line for his 16 points and led KSC in rebounds with 11.  Senior Jeff Lunn (Nashua, N.H.) led the Owls in scoring with 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting, adding eight rebounds.  Freshman Jake Collagan (Wethersfield, Conn.) and senior Jaquel Edwards (Manchester, Conn.) each had 17 points with Edwards snagging seven rebounds.  Matt Ozzella was 3-for-3 from three-point range for 11 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists. 

            Senior James Starks III (Miami, Fla.) led all scorers with 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting from the field.  He added a team-high eight rebounds, and two assists , a steal and a blocked shot.  Senior Jalen Lincoln (Nobleboro, Maine/Nobleboro) added 12 points, draining three three-pointers.  Senior Fred Knight (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) and Zach Leal (York, Maine) each chipped in with nine and seven points each. 

            With the game tied at 15 with 12:19 to play in the first half after a layup from Knight, KSC outscored USM 32-16 to close out the half for a commanding 47-31 lead at the break. Nichols scored 11 of the Owls' points in the run, while Collagan scored seven.  KSC started the second half on an 8-2 run to grow its lead to 55-33 and despite USM's efforts the rest of the way the Huskies could not close the gap.

            The game marked the final time in a Huskies' uniform for six USM seniors: Leal, Jacob Littlefield (Mechanic Falls, Maine/Poland Regional),  Lincoln, Starks, Knight, and Vincente Zenni (Manchester, N.H.).  Leal, who became the 26th USM basketball player to score 1000 points in his career, finished with 1079 points,  365 rebounds, 209 assists and 118 steals.


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