With the win, Southern Maine snaps a two-game losing streak and improves to 8-13 overall and 3-7 in the Little East Conference. Keene State drops its second straight game to stand at 14-7 overall and 7-3 in the LEC.
Starks was 8-for-12 from the field and 7-for-10 from the free throw line for his team-high 23 points, adding four assists. Junior Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) added 18 points, while seniors Jalen Lincoln (Nobleboro, Maine/Lincoln Academy) and Jacob Littlefield (Mechanic Falls, Maine/Poland Regional) scored 14 and 13 points each.
Senior Matt Ozzella (Medway, Mass.) led all scorers with 24 points and 10 rebounds on 8-for-11 shooting. Senior Jeff Lunn (Nashua, N.H.) added 16 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Ty Nichols (Springfield, Mass.) had 14 points and three assists.
KSC scored the first bucket of the game on a steal and a layup from Lunn, but it was the only time USM would trail in the contest answering back with a three from Littlefield on its next possession. Leading by a bucket, 12-10, after the first five minutes of action, USM rattled off a 10-2 run to snag a 22-12 advantage with 12:12 to play. Starks scored eight of the Huskies' 10 points in the run.
USM held a comfortable advantage for much of the first half and led by 12, 37-25, on a layup from Starks with 4:20 remaining, before Owls rallied to trim their deficit to two baskets over the next three minutes. After Starks' layup, KSC's Ozzella sandwiched a three and a layup around a USM basket, before Lunn and Ozzella went for back-to-back scored to make it 39-34 in favor of USM with 1:28 to play. However, Littlefield canned a jumper on the Huskies' next possession to give USM a 41-37 lead at the break.
In the second half, KSC pulled to within two possessions of the Huskies four times in the opening 10 minutes but were never able to put together a long enough run. After a three from senior Jaquel Edwards (Manchester, Conn.) had KSC behind the Huskies 62-57 with 9:16 to go, the Huskies outscored the Owls 11-4 over the next three minutes to take a 73-61 lead. Four different players scored in the run for USM, including a three from Lincoln, and a layup from Starks. From there, USM closed out the final six minutes outscoring KSC 17-10 for the win.
Southern Maine travels to UMass Boston on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) for its next contest. Keene State will host Plymouth State on the same day (7:30 p.m.).