KSC vs. UNH

UNH takes a shot against Keene State late in the first half on Wednesday in Durham.

DURHAM — Freshman Nate Siow fit right into the Keene State College men’s basketball lineup Wednesday, scoring 12 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists in the Owls’ 93-54 loss to the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

The first-year player logged 39 minutes, the most on the team.

“I think he has a chance to be a really good player,” said Keene State head coach Ryan Cain. “I think he showed that his quickness is scholarship-level quickness. I don’t think you’re going to find too many guys that can get from one spot to another like he can, and I think he showed that tonight against ... a really good team.”

Siow hails from Lowell, Mass., and scored over 1,000 points during his high school career at Lowell High School.

“He really developed the ability to be a shooter over the four years, and I think he’s going to be one of the tougher covers in New England,” Cain said.

Junior Jeric Cichon led the team with 13 points in 24 minutes. He fouled out with about eight minutes to go in the game.

“Jeric played really well,” Cain said. “I think he’s playing to his strength of being a scorer and ... his ability to get in the paint and make plays for himself and his teammates.”

Sophomore Jeff Hunter, who averaged 10.1 points per game for the Owls last season, controlled both ends of the court in the first half. He scored seven points in the first 5:12 of the game and finished the half with nine points. He also grabbed three rebounds and recorded a block in the half.

He finished with 11 points, as he ran into some foul trouble early on in the second half and ended up fouling out with a few minutes to go.

“When he wasn’t as tired, he was extremely effective,” Cain said. “He’s just so long and so athletic and so versatile with the basketball.

“I think oftentimes, at our level, he’ll be able to use his skill and use his strength and size and athleticism to get off quality shots ... where as tonight, those were heavily contested,” Cain added.

Hunter went 1-3 from beyond the arc, after only taking only seven three pointers all of last year. There wasn’t a single game last year where he took more than one three pointer.

“His work ethic has really taken another level over the past year,” Cain said. “And one area that he focused on was definitely being able to step up and shoot it. If he’s open from three, he’s worked hard enough to take those wide open shots.

“His bread and butter, for now, will be around the basket, but having the ability to make some of those shots and stretch the defense will only make it easier for him to score around the rim,” Cain added.

For UNH, junior Nick Guadarrama and redshirt freshman Blondeau Tchoukuiengo each scored 18 points to lead all scorers.

UNH shot 49.3 percent from the field, 55.6 in the second half, compared to Keene State’s 34.5 percent shooting.

The Owls were out-rebounded 50-30.

Keene State held its own against the Division 1 Wildcats for most of the first half. Hunter set the tone early with his scoring and defensive plays.

UNH wasn’t able to convert from beyond the arc until Jayden Martinez, Marque Maultsby and Tchoukuiengo combined to hit four three-pointers in a row in the final four minutes of the half to take a 42-31 lead into the locker room.

The second half was all Wildcats from the start. A 12-0 run to start the second half gave UNH an insurmountable 54-31 lead with 16 minutes still to play.

“That run to finish the first half and into the second half was a tough one,” Cain said. “We couldn’t find a way to break that momentum.”

Siow finally ended the streak with a layup at the 15:46 mark, but by that point, the Wildcats had flexed their muscles and cruised for the rest of the second half.

“I don’t think the score is indicative of our performance and I’m really pleased with our guys,” Cain said, mentioning he and the team were just grateful for the opportunity to play. “We forced them to make adjustments, forced them to have to play into both halves and really made it competitive for a long stretch.”

Cain said Tuesday that the team would not be playing the scoreboard. Instead, he wanted his team to take the game possession-by-possession and just enjoy having the opportunity to compete for the first time this season.

“In the first half it was great,” Cain said after the game. “Any time they got a little lead, we didn’t worry about it. We just kept playing, we just kept competing, we just kept trying to take good shots, we just kept trying to get stops.

“I think as we get a little tired and they went on that run, we may have looked up at the scoreboard a little bit more than we’d like,” he added.

The rest of the KSC season is still undetermined. For now, the players will head home for the holidays, finish classes online and get back on the court when the calendar flips.

Chris Detwiler can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1411, or cdetwiler@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Detwiler.