With 4:22 left to play in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game between the Keene State College women’s basketball team and Bryant and Stratton, the teams were locked at 12.
By halftime, Keene State had a 26-point lead.
A strong end to the first half — to say the least — propelled the Owls to their first win of the season in its home opener — 76-42 — over the Bobcats at Spaulding Gym.
The Owls were clicking on both sides of the court, using an efficient offense and stingy man-to-man defense to hold the Bobcats to their lowest point total of the young season — by 25 points. Bryant & Stratton’s previous low was 67 in the team’s season opener against North Country Community College.
Keene State held Bryant and Stratton to just 12 points in the middle two quarters.
“The gameplan was excellent,” said Keene State head coach Keith Boucher. “I was pleased. We have a young team and I thought they played up to the level they’re capable of.”
Sophomore Aryanna Murray led the offense with 20 points, as well as playing efficiently on the defensive side of the ball to help limit the Bobcats’ offense.
“She’s the straw that stirs the drink right now,” Boucher said. “Hopefully we can have a couple others do the same too.”
Freshmen Lilly Krysinski and Valerie Luizzi both saw significant minutes — Luizzi a starter — and contributed with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Matter of fact, eight of the team’s 10 rostered freshmen got playing time in Tuesday’s rout.
“We’re a very young team, and it’s just important for them to get the time on the court,” said Murray, who has been thrown into a leadership role as a sophomore this season. “They’re going to be very important for us next year.”
Included in the freshman class is Troy’s own Grace Furze, a Monadnock Regional High School graduate. Furze played 22 minutes and contributed with five rebounds and a steal on Tuesday.
Sophomore Elizabeth Gonyea — a Conant High School graduate — scored seven points and brought in a game-high 11 rebounds in 21 minutes of action and was a key piece in the Owls pulling away late in the first quarter and into the second.
Junior Rylee Burgess had an efficient day herself, scoring nine points — many coming as second chance points — and seven rebounds. Keene State outscored Bryant & Stratton 21-6 in second chance points.
Keene State grabbed the lead less than one minute into the game — off a layup from sophomore Kenzie Durnford, who finished with eight points — and never trailed from there.
“We got into a rhythm tonight,” Boucher said. “We did defensively too. We got into a rhythm defensively and offensively so hopefully we can build off that.”
The closest the Bobcats came was when they tied the game at 12 with 4:22 left to play in the first quarter.
It was all Keene State from there.
“It was great. It came down to the energy that we brought to the locker room,” said Murray. “It just all collectively helped together as a team win.”
The Owls ended the half on a 33-7 run and had a 40-point lead after three quarters (66-26).
“Hopefully this is a confidence booster for us,” Boucher said. “When you start out quick and you hit shots, that’s contagious. Everybody feeds off of that.”
Keene State (1-2, 0-1 LEC) travels to Worcester State next Tuesday for a 5 p.m. tip-off before returning to Spaulding Gym after Thanksgiving — on Nov. 29 — against Rivier.