DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team erased a 10-point deficit with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation, but a Keene State College junior Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) fade-away jumper from the left elbow with eight seconds left proved to be the difference as the Owls spoiled Senior Day with a 73-71 victory this afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center. The Corsairs had an opportunity to forge a tie with four ticks left on the clock, but the hosts only made the front end of a pair of free throw attempts.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 73, Keene St. 71
Records: UMass Dartmouth (12-13, 5-9 LEC) Keene St. (17-8, 11-3 LEC)
How it Happened
UMass Dartmouth had four players in double-digits for scoring with senior Joshua Imadiyi (Lynn, Mass.) pacing the offense with a game-high 24 points on 5-of-10 from deep while also collecting 13 rebounds. Freshman Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.) reversed a slow-start as he scored all 15 of his points in the second half, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out three assists. Juniors Atakan Ackam (Ankara, Turkey) and Arinze Obiora (Lagos, Nigeria) logged 12 points apiece and combined for 11 rebounds to round out the Corsairs' top-performers.
Nichols carried the load for Keene State with his 23 points, including 11-of-12 from the charity stripe, while handing out a game-high six assists. Senior Dizel Wright (Springfield, Mass.) finished 6-of-9 from the floor to accumulate 15 points while freshman big James Anozie (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) chipped in 12 points and seven boards.
Imadiyi produced 18 of his team's 30 points in the first half, shooting 7-of-15 from the floor including a quartet of three-pointers. After opening the game with a 11-8 lead on the scoreboard, the Corsairs fell behind with 13:34 to go until the intermission when Owls' guard Wright sparked an 11-0 Keene St. run when he put down a slam on the fast break (19-11). With 3:05 left in the first half and Keene St. up by ten, UMass Dartmouth chipped away at the deficit as Imadiyi connected on the final triple of the period, highlighting an 11-5 run where he put in five points to help trim the Owl's lead to seven going into the break.
In the second half, the Corsairs came out firing as it scored the first seven points of the frame, using the momentum for an 11-8 run to keep the deficit low. With 7:34 left to play, and the lead at 10 points for Keene St., the Corsairs began to build the foundation for a late-comeback when five straight points from the charity stripe lead to a 7-0 run.
In the final four minutes, mindful defense from Marquise Jones (Randolph, Mass.) swayed a charging call in favor of the Corsairs, and from there the host grabbed its first lead since 13:14 in the first half when Imadiyi converted a lay-in up close with an opposing player on his back. With 44 seconds left, Brandon Williams Jr. (Dorchester, Mass.) drove the paint, finishing a layup, and then knocking down the and-one to tie the score at 70. But with eight seconds remaining, Nichols put the Owls ahead for good, draining a midrange step back en route to the 73-71 victory.
Inside the Numbers
- Imadiyi nabbed his eighth double-double of the year on Senior Day, falling three points shy of a new career-high with his 24-point output. He also tied a season-high in three-pointers made with his 5-for-10 clip.
- Free throws played a role in the outcome as the Corsairs finished 19-of-28, starting the game 4-of-9 from the stripe in the first half, while the Owls were good on 21-of-30 chances.
- Keene St. operated with a 38-26 advantage on points in the paint while the teams were deadlocked in rebounds with 43 apiece.
- The Owls received 35 points from its bench players while the Corsairs only had one point from their reserves.
- Despite the loss, the Corsairs punched their ticket to the conference playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.
UMass Dartmouth earned the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Little East Conference Championship tournament and will travel to No. 4 Western Connecticut State University in the quarterfinal round at 7pm on Tuesday, Feb. 20.