GORHAM, Maine – Freshman Kristen Curley (Gorham, Maine) led three players in double-figures with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals as the University of Southern Maine Huskies used a strong third quarter to defeat the Plymouth State University Panthers in a Little East Conference women's basketball game Thursday night at Fifield Court.
With the win, Southern Maine improves to 12-10 overall and 8-3 in the Little East Conference. The Huskies are in third place in the Little East Conference standings. Plymouth State is now 6-16 overall and 2-9 in the Little East.
Curley led all scorers with her 22 points, finishing 8-for-17 from the field with a trio of three-pointers. The Huskies' 5-9 guard scored 12 of her 22 points in the third quarter as USM outscored the Panthers 25-14 in the frame to overcome an eight point deficit to start the frame. Senior Emily Nicholson (Quispamisis, New Brunswick/Kennebecasis Valley) had 17 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals, while classmate Miranda Nicely added a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore Chantel Eells (Turner, Maine/Leavitt) matched Nicely on the boards with 10, adding five assists, three blocked shots and four points.
Sophomore Brittany Roche (Londonderry, N.H.) led PSU with 18 points, and five rebounds. Junior Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) had 11 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, shooting 5-for-11 from the floor. Junior Jess Conant (Canton, Maine/Dirigo) went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to notch 10 points.
After a nip-and-tuck first quarter, USM narrowly led the Panthers 18-17. In the second quarter, the Panthers took advantage of six Husky turnovers to score 10 of their 16 points in the frame to take a 33-28 lead at the half. Roche and Morrill each scored five points in the third, including a buzzer-beating half-court three from Morrill.
PSU continued its hot-shooting from three-point territory opening the third quarter with another Roche three to lead 36-28 with 9:33 on the clock before USM rattled off a 14-4 run over the next four minutes to lead 42-40 with 4:15 to play. Curley was unstoppable during the run, scoring nine of her 12 points in the quarter.
After Curley's layup put the Huskies up 42-40 with 5:01 to play, both teams exchanged baskets. Freshman Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, NH/Kingswood Regional) hit a jumper tying the game up, before Nicely canned a mid-range shot from the elbow. Emerson converted a layup on a Morrill assist on the Panther's next play tying the game for the eighth time, 44-44, with 3:07 to play before Curley and McLaughlin each exchanged big threes for a 47-47 game with 1:59 on the clock. After the McLaughlin three, USM scored the final six points of the quarter including a three from sophomore Katie Howe (New Boston, N.H./Goffstown) with 33 seconds left for a 53-47 lead.
Down by six, the Panthers outscored USM 13-7 in the first six minutes led by five points from Roche, to tie the game up for the 11th time, 60-60, with 4:12 to play. However, USM got a pair of big jumpers down the stretch as USM closed the game on a 7-0 run for the 67-60 final.
Southern Maine is on the road this Saturday at Rhode Island College (1:00 p.m.) for a Little East Conference game.