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M-Basketball: Warriors Withstand Owls

After allowing game-tying three-pointer, Warriors prevail in OT

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WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team scored 16 of its 22 overtime points from the free throw line to post its fourth straight Little East Conference win, 93-84, over Keene State College Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Brian Salzillo struggled from the floor Wednesday night against Keene, but was 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds of overtime. (Photo by Jon Mizger).

In overtime, Eastern (17-7, 11-2 Little East), scored eight consecutive points to break the fifth and final tie of the game and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville)  combined to sink 12 free throws over the five-minute extra session.

With  its tenth win in its last 12 games, Eastern equals its conference regular-season win total of a year ago by downing Keene State (15-9, 9-4 Little East) - the pre-season LEC favorite -  for the ninth time in last ten meetings.

With one regular-season LEC game left, Eastern continues to trail Rhode Island College by one game. The Anchormen defeated host Western Connecticut, 69-60, Wednesday night. However, by virtue of tie-breakers, Eastern will earn the No. 1 tournament seed if it wins Saturday and Rhode Island loses. Eastern hosts Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 3 p.m. in its final game of the regular season, while Rhode Island visits Keene State.

Keene, which lost for only the third time in 12 games on its opponents' home court this year, remains in third place in the conference, two games back of Eastern and one ahead of the University of Southern Maine.

Garrow (9-for-10 from the foul line) led all players with 25 points and added seven rebounds and two steals, while freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) had 20 points and six assists, Salzillo 17 points (7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds of overtime)and senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) 15 points and a career-tying 14 rebounds.

Preston's jumper had given Eastern a three-point lead with 1:19 left in regulation but the Warriors gave the ball back with a missed shot and freshman guard Tre' Tipton tied the game with 14 seconds left with a corner three-pointer. The Warriors couldn't convert two shots in the paint as the horn ending regulation sounded.

The LEC leader in three-point field goal percentage, the Warriors experienced a rare off-night from downtown, which played a large part in their inability to distance themselves from Keene until overtime. Eastern missed 17 of 20 from long range in the game, including all 11 of their bombs after the break.

Salzillo's tossed in his first three-pointer late in the first half to cut a four-point Keene lead to one -- giving him at least one in his last 29 games -- and he hit another three minutes later to put the hosts in front until just 4:22 remained in regulation.

Sophomore guard Tom Doyle led Keene with 20 points and a team-high ten rebounds, and senior forward Eric Fazio 18 points (8-for-10 from the foul line). Fazio's free throw with 13:25 left in regulation represented his 1,000th career point, but he was forced to leave the game for good with 4:15 left in regulation after being flattened in drawing a charge from Garrow in the paint.


 

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