Owl Basketball Teams Earn NCAA Berths
KEENE, N.H., 2/27/07 - There were no games scheduled, but that didn’t stop Keene State from making hoop history on Sunday. Late Sunday evening, Keene State men’s and women’s basketball teams both received notification that they had earned berths to the NCAA Division III Tournament. It marks the first time that both programs have received bids in the same season.
The Keene State men’s team (23-5) will host Rivier College of Nashua (20-8) in an opening-round game on Thursday (7 p.m.). The KSC women (21-6) travel to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where they will face Maine Maritime (25-3) Academy in a first-round game on Friday (5 p.m.).
A victory by the Owl men will send them to Salem State College for a second- round game against the Vikings on Saturday. If the Owl women prevail, they will face the winner of the Bowdoin/Mount Holyoke game on Saturday.
The men’s basketball team is making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament in the past four years. The 2003-04 Owls advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to Williams College. The KSC women will be making their first appearance in the Division III Tournament. They went to the tournament as a Division II member in 1989-90.
Both squads earned at-large berths after losing in the championship games of their respective Little East Conference tournaments. The Owl men lost to Rhode Island College (87-75) and the KSC women came up short against the University of Southern Maine (68-57), which captured its 11th straight title.
“Our season track record stood up against teams around the country,” said KSC Coach Rob Colbert about his team’s at-large berth. “We were upset about the loss in the LEC finals, but I told the players that there are multiple paths to your destination, and we just took a different course.”
“If you look back at the last third of the season, I thought we made a statement with our 11 straight wins,” said Owl women’s coach Keith Boucher. “We had some very good games, including a signature win against No. 4 ranked Southern Maine. I’m very happy for our players.”
The KSC men will be facing a Rivier team that is making its initial trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Raiders claimed the bid by edging Emmanuel College 59-57 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship game. This will be the first meeting between Keene State and Rivier since the 2001-02 season. Former Owl player Rich Winget ‘97 is on the Raiders’ coaching staff.
Despite falling to Maine-Farmington (61-58) in the finals of the North Atlantic Conference Tournament, Maine Maritime will be making its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. Earlier this season, the Owls took the Mariners into double overtime before falling 71-68 in the championship game of the KSC Holiday Tournament.
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