DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Keene State went 39-of-66 (59 percent) from the field on Saturday, as all five starters finished in double figures in the Owls' narrow escape past UMass Dartmouth men's basketball, 89-86.
Senior Jordan Rezendes dropped 21 points to lead the Corsairs, dishing out six assists, while junior Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) turned in a season-high 19 points and 10 boards for a double-double. Classmate Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) finished with 15 points, while junior Chris Mendes (Somerset, Mass.) scored 11 points in only his third game as a Corsair.
Keene State senior Matt Ozzella (Medway, Mass.) paced the Owls with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Jaquel Edwards (Manchester, Conn.) added an additional double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
UMass Dartmouth (10-7 overall, 3-4 LEC) gained a five-point lead five minutes into the contest, but it quickly disappeared as Keene State (11-6, 4-3 LEC) then embarked on a 17-2 run spanning the next five minutes to jump ahead 25-15.
Tom Keyes (Fall River, Mass.) started a Corsair run immediately after, burying a 3-pointer, and Arinze Obiora (Hyde Park, Mass.) made a layup and Akanni another long-range basket to bring the hosts within two. Traded buckets insued for the next four minutes, until three straight Keene State layups increased the visitors' lead back to eight.
Two-straight 3-pointers from Mendes helped to bring the Corsairs back in the closing minutes, but Ozzella connected behind the arc with three seconds left to give his team a 44-42 advantage at the break.
The Owls then grew even more accurate in the next half, missing only 11 of 31 shots as senior Nate Stitchell (Coventry, R.I.) scored all of his 16 points in the last 20 minutes. Despite seeing eight tied scores, the Corsairs were able to maximize their second-half leads at only four points.
A Robinson layup with 3:43 gave UMass Dartmouth an 82-79 lead with 3:43 left, but Stitchell tied the score right back up a minute later with a 3-pointer, and hit another right away to negate Rezendes' jumper. Obiora put in the last points for the Corsairs at 1:29, as Rezendes missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
The Owls smothered the paint, nearly doubling the Corsair's points down low in the second half and outscoring the hosts 49-33 at the blocks for the day.
UMass Dartmouth is back in action on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., hosting UMass Boston, while Keene State will meet league-leader Eastern Connecticut on the road at the same time.