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Timson Leads Owls Over Wheaton in ECAC Semifinals

KEENE, N.H. 3/8/03 - Chris Timson (Beverly, Mass.) had 25 points including three pointers that send the game into overtime and put the Owls ahead for good in the extra period to lead the third-seeded Keene State College men’s basketball team to a dramatic 95-90 victory over seventh seed Wheaton College in an ECAC New England Tournament semifinal game played Saturday at Spaulding Gym.

Keene State (22-7) advances to the tournament championship. They travel to Wellesley, Mass. on Sunday to face top-seeded Babson College in a 2 p.m. game. Babson (25-4) defeated fourth seed Endicott College 78-68 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Trailing by 14 points (61-47) midway in the second half, KSC used its full court press to get back in the game. The Owls took a one-point lead (79-78) with 2:44 to play. A basket by Scott Mahan (Bridgewater, Mass.) and a pair of free throws by Sean Kelly (Providence, R.I.) put the Lyons back up 82-79 with 19 seconds to play.

With time winding down, Timson, standing to the left of the circle, hit his first key three-pointer with 5.1 seconds on the clock to knot the score at 82-all.

Wheaton had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Jarrett Lewis (Detroit, MI) had the ball swatted away by Bennett Pawlusiak (Manchester, N.H.) as time expired.

In overtime, Wheaton took a four-point lead (90-86) on a basket by Mahan with 2:45 to go. Timson cut the lead to two (90-88) with move inside and put the Owls ahead for good (91-90) with his second key trey of the game with 41 seconds left on the clock.

"I knew I needed to step up, " said Timson about his two crucial three- pointers. " I went and got the ball and took control." I couldn’t believe it."

"We’re used to being in that situation," said Timson about his team’s comeback. "We get one emotional play and we thrive on that the rest of the game."

"Chris was great, but I am so happy with my whole team," added KSC Coach Rob Colbert. "They were down but not out and they kept fighting."

The Owls put the game away with solid defense and free throws. Following a steal, Alphonse Michalski (Northampton, Mass.) was fouled and made it 92-90 with a free throw. He missed his second attempt, but Kyle Purtinton (Norwood, N.H.) was fouled after grabbing the offensive rebound and hit both free throws to put KSC up 94-90.

"I knew I was going to make them," said Purinton. "You have to be confident."

Michalski finished with 21 points and nine assists, freshman Sean Sullivan (Athol, Mass.) came off the bench to score 15 points, and Derek Swenson (Attleboro, Mass.) added 10 points for the Owls. Purinton had a team high 11 rebounds to go with his seven points.

Josean Vega (Pawtucket, R.I.) had 21 points and Mahan finished with 20 points and 21 rebounds to lead Wheaton, which completes its season with a 19-10 mark.

Keene State will be playing in its first ECAC championship game since 1998 when they lost to Colby-Sawyer. "They’re a great team, but were going to just let it lose,’ said Purinton, the Owls’ senior co-captain. "I’m going to have some fun and we’re going to win a championship."

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