Undefeated men's basketball survives scare from Keene State

Tim Doyle '19 (Josh McKee photo)
Tim Doyle '19 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's Kena Gilmour '20 made four free throws in the final 21 seconds and the nationally ranked No. 5 Continentals held on for an 85-80 non-conference win against the Keene State College Owls at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Thursday afternoon.

The Continentals (12-0 overall) never trailed and the score was tied once midway through the first half. The two teams were playing each other for the first time.

Gilmour, who leads the NESCAC in scoring at 21.1 points per game, led all players with 28 points and added a team-high eight rebounds. Tim Doyle '19 drained four 3-pointers and finished with 20 points and four assists. Doyle tops the conference in 3-point field goal percentage at 53.3 percent (16-30). Peter Hoffmann '19 filled the stat sheet with 15 points, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots. Hoffmann moved into 20th place on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,234 points. Andrew Groll '19 chipped in nine points and two blocks.

Ty Nichols led Keene State (6-5) with 20 points, five assists and five steals. Nichols, who entered the day averaging nearly 26 points per contest, was just 5 of 18 from the field, committed seven turnovers and fouled out with 6:16 left. James Anozie nearly posted a double-double with 19 points and nine boards. Miguel Prieto scored 13 points, Edwin Ezedonmwen dropped in 11 and Paul Mahon had 10 off the bench.

A steal and deep 3-pointer by Ezedonmwen pulled the Owls within 81-80 with 23 seconds remaining. Gilmour was fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and calmly made both free throws. Ezedonmwen missed an attempt from beyond the arc that would have tied the score with nine seconds to go and Gilmour grabbed the defensive rebound. After a Hamilton timeout Gilmour was fouled again and clinched the victory with two more free throws with four seconds left.

It looked as if the Continentals would have an easy time of it after they scored the first 16 points and Keene State missed its first 10 shots. Nichols finally put the Owls on the scoreboard with a steal and fast-break layup nearly seven minutes into the first half.

Doyle found Hoffmann for a layup that put Hamilton back up by 16, but Keene State roared back with a 21-5 run that ended on back-to-back 3-pointers by Nichols for a 23-23 deadlock with 8:25 remaining. The Owls made 5 of 6 shots from long range during the spurt.

The Continentals countered with a 10-0 run and led the rest of the way. A Michael Grassey '19 jumper started things off and was followed by a free throw by Spencer Kendall '21, a basket by Hoffmann, two free throws by Groll, and another by Hoffmann. Gilmour passed to Hoffmann for a basket in the paint that gave Hamilton a 10-point lead with 5:00 to go.

Keene State didn't get closer than five points the rest of the half, and Hoffmann beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that sent the Continentals into the locker room with a 43-35 advantage. Hoffmann scored 12 of his 15 points in the opening half as Hamilton shot 53.8 percent (14-26) from the floor.

The Continentals' lead fluctuated between five and 14 points for most of the second half, and the Continentals still enjoyed an eight-point cushion at 76-68 after Hoffmann made the first of two free throws with 3:34 left. The Owls cut their deficit to one at 76-75 with 2:22 remaining after a layup by Anozie, a 3-pointer and a steal and layup by Prieto. Anozie and Prieto combined for 25 points during the final 20 minutes.

Groll and Prieto traded baskets in the paint, and Keene State still trailed by one at 78-77 with 1:07 to go. On the next possession Groll rebounded his own miss, made the layup, was fouled and completed the old-fashioned 3-point play for an 81-77 lead with 41 seconds left.

Hamilton hosts Trinity College for the Continentals' NESCAC season opener on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.