BOSTON, Mass. — While Emerson College hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions with less than 1:15 to go, the Keene State College men’s basketball team missed a pair of its own tries from long range and turned the ball over in that key stretch, leading to an 88-82 loss in the first-ever meeting between the teams on Monday night at Brown & Plofker Gymnasium.
The Owls took a 45-40 lead into the halftime break and led for nearly the entire opening 13 minutes of the second half, but the Lions’ Max Davis — who scored a career-high 25 points off the bench — hit a three to bring his team within one (65-64) with 8:15 to go, which kicked off a game-closing push where Emerson scored 27 points to give KSC a second road loss in their last three away from Spaulding Gymnasium.
Davis scored 13 points alone in the second half, making 3-of-5 from three, and the Lions as a team made 5-of-9 from deep (KSC 4-of-9) in the final 20 minutes while also outscoring the Owls 15-5 at the foul line in the period (18-7 overall in the game).
Emerson leading scorer and 6-foot-10 center Jarred Houston made 8-of-10 free throws to score 12 points. He was just 2-of-5 from the field, but grabbed 18 rebounds, dished out seven assists, and blocked four shots.
Despite Houston, the Owls outrebounded Emerson 40-30, outscored the Lions 46-24 in the paint and 12-8 on second chances, but were minus-21 in bench points and minus-11 at the foul line.
The Owls grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, but only one came in the final 13 minutes as Emerson routinely limited KSC to just one shot per possession.
Octavio Brito’s putback of Jeff Hunter’s miss had the Owls up 56-51 with 13:21 left, and Jeric Cichon’s layup a little over a minute later made it a 60-54 game, but KSC then missed their next two shots and turned the ball over as Emerson tied it for the first time in the half with their first of what turned into several scoring runs down the stretch.
They later rattled off seven more points in a row to flip a four-point deficit into a 68-65 lead, and the Owls never led again, only drawing even once more on Jordan Santos’ triple that made it 68-68 with 5:59 left.
KSC did hang around as buckets by Hunter and Cichon twice brought them within two. However, the Owls couldn’t contain the three-point line and it bit them in two critical spots.
Emerson went 6-for-8 from the foul line in the final 12 seconds to seal the win, improving to 4-1 at home.
The Owls put five in double-figures for the fourth time this season, paced by 14 points apiece from Hunter and James Anozie. Hunter added six assists, and KSC again had more helpers than turnovers. Mason Jean Baptiste and Brito (5-9 FG, 3-3 FT) added 13 and Nate Siow 12.
The Owls have a pair of two important league matchups this week on the road as their busy stretch continues with a visit to Plymouth State University (6-3, 1-0 LEC) on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.