GORHAM, Maine – A fast break dunk from senior James Starks III (Miami, Fla./Miami Killian) and a three-ball from senior Jacob Littlefield (Mechanic Falls, Maine/Poland Regional) ignited a 17-6 run over the final 6:31 of regulation to lead the University of Southern Maine Huskies to a come-from-behind 77-70 win over UMass Dartmouth in a Little East Conference men's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Fifield Court.
With the win, Southern Maine improves to 10-15 on the season and 5-10 in the Little East Conference. The loss drops UMass Dartmouth to 16-9 overall and 9-5 in the LEC. The 2017 Little East Conference men's basketball championship tournament begins on Tuesday, February 21, and will be played at the higher seeds. USM enters the tourney as the seventh seed, while UMass Dartmouth will be the third seed. Southern Maine will travel to Keene State on Tuesday (TBA). UMass Dartmouth will host Rhode Island College as the sixth seed.
Starks recorded his 14th double-double of the season with 26 points and 16 rebounds, both game-high totals, to lead three Southern Maine players in double figures. Littlefield added 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal, while senior Zach Leal (York, Maine) added 15 points, six assists, three rebounds and a blocked shot. Seniors Jalen Lincoln (Nobleboro, Maine/Lincoln Academy) and Fred Knight (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) each scored eight points.
Junior Joshua Imadiyi (Lynn, Mass.) led four UMD players in double-digit scoring with 15 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Atakan Akcam (Ankara, Turkey) added 13 points and six rebounds, while seniors Chris Mendes (Somerset, Mass.) and Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) each scored 10 points. Mendes had seven assists and six steals for the Corsairs. Sophomore Nick Portelance (Fairhaven, Mass.) added eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Trailing 64-59 with 6:31 to play following a layup from Imadiyi on a feed from Mendes, Starks threw down a two-handed dunk in transition on a nifty assist from Leal, before Leal found a wide-open Littlefield for a three pointer for a quick 5-0 swing on back-to-back possessions for USM. Robinson scored back-to-back layups for the Corsairs to return the lead to his team 68-64 with 4:07 on the clock. USM took the lead back on a quick 6-0 run on baskets from Starks, Knight and Littlefield, before Portelance converted an pretty driving assist from Mendes for a 70-70game with 1:19 to play. With the game in the balance, Knight hammered home a bucket in the paint off of an assist from Leal to give the Huskies' the lead for good, 72-70, and USM scored the final five points of the game for the win.
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