KEENE, N.H. – Timely buckets in the final two minutes for Corsair senior Arinze Obiora (Hyde Park, Mass.) in conjunction with a key defensive stop by classmate Atakan Akcam (Ankara, Turkey) on the last Owl possession staved off a potential Keene State comeback to boost UMass Dartmouth to an 80-71 Little East Conference triumph at Spaulding Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
How It Happened
- Akcam accounted for all of the offense in the opening five minutes, going on a personal 7-2 run to grab an early advantage over the Owls. Keene State (5-3, 2-1 LEC) climbed out of the early hole with a quick 7-0 run to take the lead, 11-10, with 12 minutes to go.
- UMass Dartmouth (6-4, 2-1 LEC) sophomore Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.) had it going early as he made good on his first pair of attempts from long range, with the last providing an 18-15 advantage. Out of the media timeout, Ashworth raced down the floor after the squad collected the defensive rebound and finished the fast break layup through contact for the and-one bucket and a 22-17 lead.
- Foul trouble for Keene sophomore DeVon Beasley (Andover, Mass.) and senior Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) forced the Owls’ hand into going deeper into their bench, getting called four four and three, respectively, in the first half. Each team went bucket-for-bucket in the remaining five minutes, allowing UMass Dartmouth a 41-35 cushion at the break.
- Up 47-45 at the 16:19 mark, Ashworth made all three of his free throws after getting hacked beyond the arc to begin what would be seven unanswered points for the squad. Freshman Marcus Azor (Brockton, Mass.) turned UMass Dartmouth’s next possession into a successful one, using a screen atop the key and knocking down the jumper just inside the perimeter with the shot clock evaporating.
- Nichols would not be silenced as he sprinted down court for the layup plus the whistle for a conventional three-point play, narrowing the margin to 57-51. Corsair freshman Adam Seablom (Lakeville, Mass.) came up big down the stretch for the visitors as he scored or assisted on three straight possessions, capped off by a right wing three-pointer to give UMass Dartmouth its biggest lead of the afternoon of 12 (72-60).
- Keene State snatched the momentum back by tacking on the game’s next 11 points, bookended by a trifecta from Paul Mahon (Franklin, Mass.) and free throw by Nichols with 3:22 to go.
- With all the bounces going the Owls’ way, Obiora came up huge in crunch time with a clutch fade away jumper off the glass at the 1:48 mark to stop the bleeding and give the team some breathing room (74-71). In the next trip down, Nichols attempted to drive through the paint but Akcam swiped the ball right out of the hands of the Owl forward to precede an and-one completion by Obiora to deliver the Corsair dagger (78-71).
Inside The Numbers
- Ashworth and Akcam provided much of the output in the first 20 minutes, teaming up for 25 points.
- UMass Dartmouth swung the ball well, assisting on 21 of their 27 field goals.
- Obiora tallied his sixth double-double of the year while adding a season-high four assists.
- Seablom clinched a career-high 13 points for the squad, shooting 5-8 overall (62.5%).
- Ashworth’s 21 establishes a new season-best, surpassing the 20 that he has posted twice this year. The guard went a perfect 8-8 on his free throws while dishing out five dimes.
The Corsairs return home to host Tufts University on Monday at 7 p.m. Keene State will next compete on Dec. 29 in the Sponaugle Tournament hosted by Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster, Pa. with tip-off set for 1 p.m.
(Recap By Kyle Diangkinay '19, Athletic Communications Graduate Assistant)
(Photo Credit: Lyrik Gelmete '21)