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Owls Host Wheaton in ECAC Semifinals

KEENE, N.H. 3/6/03 - The Keene State College men’s basketball team will host Wheaton (Mass.) College in a ECAC Division III New England Tournament semifinal game Saturday (2 p.m.) at Spaulding Gym.

Top seed Babson College will face fourth seed Endicott College in the other semifinal match up. The championship game will be played Sunday at the highest remaining seed.

The Owls (21-7), the third seed in the tournament, advanced to the second round by virtue of their cliff hanging 89-84 overtime victory against sixth seed Gordon College in a quarterfinal game on Wednesday. Anticipating a trip to Plymouth State for the semifinals, the Owls cancelled the bus after the second-seeded Panthers were upset 86-83 by seventh seeded Wheaton.

“I’m not really surprised,” said KSC coach Rob Colbert after his team learned they would be hosting the game. “The tournament has a very equal field and anyone can fall victim.”

The Owls were almost victims as well. A key basket by Chris Timson and a pair of free throws by Harley Davis in the closing seconds of their game against the Fighting Scots enabled KSC to escape with a win.

Keene State will be facing a Wheaton College team that finished fourth in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) and lost to eventual champ Clark University in the semifinal round of the conference’s post-season tournament. The Lyons (19-9), who are making their fifth trip to the ECACs, reached the semifinals in 1993. Their 19 victories is the second- best total in the program’s history.

“Wheaton is not a traditional seventh seed,” Colbert said. “They’re a very dangerous team and we’re going to have our hands full against them.”

One player the Owls must keep their eye on is junior forward Scott Mahan. A transfer from Bentley College, Mahan, a first-team NEWMAC all-star is averaging (17.6 ppg., 9.1 rpg) almost a double-double this season. Josean Vega, a sophomore guard who netted 32 points against PSC also bears watching.

Timson, who finished with a team-high 22 points and 14 rebounds against Gordon, should also be a factor against the Lyons. The Owls also hope Brandon Johanson and Ben Maynard can return to the line-up after missing Wednesday’s game due to illness.

Making their fifth tournament appearance in the past six years, Keene State is shooting for its first ECAC Championship. They reached the finals in 1998 and lost to Plymouth State in last year’s semifinals.

“We would have liked another shot against Plymouth after losing to them in the LEC Tournament, but we’re also excited about playing a team like Wheaton,” Colbert said. ” Tournaments give you the chance to face different opponents.”

Wheaton College defeated Keene State in the teams’ only meeting at the start of the 2000-01 season.

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