GORHAM, Maine – Aaron Samuel had 23 points and 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards, to lead the Western Connecticut State University Colonials to a 68-60 win over the University of Southern Maine Huskies in a Little East Conference men's basketball game Monday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium.
With the win, Western Connecticut improves to 12-6 overall and 6-3 in the Little East Conference. The Colonials have won two straight. Southern Maine falls to 4-12 overall and 2-7 in conference action.
Samuel was one of three WestConn players in double figures. He was 8-for-11 from the field and 7-for-11 from the free throw line; Samuel's 12 rebounds helped WestConn to a 41-29 advantage on the glass. Geary McLeod scored 18 points, including key points down the stretch, shooting 8-for-11 from the floor, adding six steals and five rebounds. Rashard Rodriguez came off the bench for 16 points and seven boards.
Senior Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) led the Huskies with 19 points, while junior Derek Haney (Auburn, Calif./Placer) tossed in 15 points, all on three-pointers, off of the bench. Junior Jayvon Pitts-Young (Portland, Maine) added 11 points, four rebounds and two steals, shooting 4-for-8, including a four-point play in the second half.
After a back-and-forth first half, Southern Maine went into the locker room down three, 38-35, at the half. Haney had all 15 of his points in the opening stanza. The Huskies were down by seven, 35-28, with two minutes left to play in the half but used a 7-3 run to trim their deficit to a single possession. McCue went 4-for-4 from the line in the run, while senior Sean Jany (Westbrook, Maine) hit an off-balanced buzzer-beating three for the final basket of the half.
The game remained close in the second with the Huskies trailing by three, 44-41 with just under 12 minutes to play, before WestConn used a 9-0 run over the course of a minute to create some separation and lead 53-41 with 10:47 to go. Three different Colonials scored in the run led by five points from Rodriguez.
WestConn held its double digit advantage and led by 10, 61-51, with 3:25 left on a layup from Rodriguez, before USM turned in a run of its own, 7-0, to trail by a possession 61-58, with 1:57 to play. After a pair of McCue free throws, Pitts-Young canned a three and was fouled for an extra point and a quick six point swing. The Huskies made it 61-58 after Jany sank one-of-two free throws. With their lead dwindling, the Colonials got a pair of steals and layups from McLeod and quickly returned to a comfortable 65-58 advantage with 49 seconds to play. Pitts-Young hit a jumper to make it 65-60 on USM's next possession, but WestConn closed the game out on the line 68-60. x
Southern Maine hosts UMass Dartmouth on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) in a Little East game for its next contest.