HARTFORD, Conn. – Freshman Evan Christensen (Old Orchard Beach, Maine/Thornton Academy) scored a career-high 21 points as the University of Southern Maine Huskies dropped a back-and-forth contest to the Western New England University Golden Bears in the second game of the 2018 Trinity Holiday Invitational Sunday evening at Trinity's Oosting Gymnasium.
With the loss Southern Maine falls to 3-7 overall. Western New England improves to 3-7 with the win.
Christensen was 7-for-10 from the field, including a perfect 4-for-4 mark from three-point range for his career-high 21 points. He added five rebounds. Senior Grayson Waterman (Berwick, Maine/Noble) finished with a game-high 28 points, knocking down 11-of-19 from the field, adding five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Junior Jayvon Pitts-Young (Portland, Maine) had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Senior Sean Jany (Westbrook, Maine) hauled down a team-best nine rebounds.
WNEU had four players in double-figures led by 20 points and 11 rebounds from Mike McGuire. Freshman Antonio Brancato (Fairfield, Conn./Wilton) was 7-for-12 from the field for 16 points and five assists, followed by sophomore Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill) with 14 points and sophomore Zachary Tavitian (Milford, Conn./Joseph A. Foran) with 13 points.
Trailing by as many as 13 points midway through the first half, Southern Maine rallied with a 22-7 run to slip into the second half with a 36-34 lead at the break. Waterman and Christensen led the way for the Huskies in the first half with 15 and 12 points respectively. Waterman was 6-for-8 from the field in the first half, while Christensen was 4-for-6. Waterman scored all 15 of his points in the Huskies 22-7 run.
In a back-and-forth second half, both teams were even at 58-58 with 6:34 to play following a pair of free throws from Waterman. Continuing the close play, Southern Maine took a five point lead on three from Christensen and a steal and a layup from Waterman for a 67-64 lead with 3:30 to go. Following a timeout, WNEU regrouped and regained the lead on back-to-back threes from Tavitian and junior Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Roy C. Ketcham) for a quick 5-0 spurt. Waterman hit a contested jumper to stop the Golden Bears run and a 70-69 score with 1:40 to play, but WNEU responded with an 11-3 run to close out the game for the 81-72 final.
Southern Maine returns to action in the second day of the 2018 Trinity Holiday Invitational. USM will face the Farleigh Dickinson University-Florham Devils at 12 p.m. in the consolation game. FDU-Florham fell 61-49 to host Trinity College Bantams.