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February 20. 2013 8:07PM

Keene State cagers eye unfinished business

The Keene State College men's basketball team, which defeated Plymouth State University in the quarterfinals of the Little East Conference tournament, has unfinished business heading into the semifinals against Eastern Connecticut State.

Last year, Keene State faced Eastern Connecticut in the conference semis and lost, 81-76, in double overtime. And last week, the Owls traved to ECSU and lost in overtime, 93-84, as the Warriors completed a regular-season sweep against Keene State.

The third-seeded Owls (16-10) play ESCU (19-7) on Friday at Rhode Island College. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

Keene State held on for a wild 74-68 victory against rival Plymouth State on Tuesday, a game that remained up for grabs in the final minute. Tre'Tipton hit a reverse layup to give KSC a 69-66 lead with 1:49 remaining, and Owls freshman Nate Howard had a steal and made one free with 1:11 remaining. Howard, who saw limited playing time during the season, played a key role in the win.

"I know if I play hard I'll get more minutes," said Howard, who made four key free throws and finished with nine points. "It was a fun game to play in."

PSU junior Petey Skevas hit two free throws to cut the lead to 70-68 with 54 seconds on the clock. The loss dropped Plymouth State to 7-19.

Senior guard Ryan Martin led the Owls with 17 points, while Anthony Mariano chipped in 10 points off the bench. Plymouth State sophomore guard Alex Burt of Dover led the Panthers with 17 points. Petey Skevas added 16 points. Kevin Eisenberg of Moulonborough netted five 3-pointers and added 15 points, and freshman forward Uche Nwokeji had 15 points for the Panthers.

The Little East Conference tournament final will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. at Rhode Island College. Top-ranked RIC (24-3) faces the University of Southern Maine (15-11) in Friday's semifinal opener at 6 p.m.


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