GORHAM, Maine – Senior Miranda Nicely (Farmington, Maine/Mt. Blue) scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds (including three offensive boards), and had two assists off of the bench as one of five University of Southern Maine players in double-figures scoring to help the Huskies to a 77-62 win over the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors in a Little East Conference women's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium.
Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Huskies improve to 7-8 overall and 4-1 in the Little East Conference. Suffering its third consecutive conference loss, Eastern Connecticut is now 3-10 overall and 2-3 in the LEC.
Nicely was 7-for-12 from the field, scoring eight of her points in the fourth quarter as USM pulled away from the Warriors. Freshman Kristen Curley (Gorham, Maine) matched Nicely with a team-high 18 points on 7-of-13 from the field, adding six rebounds, one assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Sophomore Chantel Eells (Turner, Maine/Leavitt) added 13 points, while senior Emily Nicholson (Quispamisis, New Brunswick/Kennebecasis Valley) and junior Kimberly Howrigan (Fairfield, Vt./Bellows Free Academy) each scored 10 points. Nicholson had a team-high six assists.
ECSU sophomore Mya Villard (Cromwell, Conn.) led all scorers with 22 points, adding nine rebounds. Sophomore Julie Jordan (Sterling, Conn./Plainfield) had 15 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while junior Kelsey Santagata (Stamford, Conn.) added 12 points, five reboudns, three assits, two steals and a blocked shots.
After a dead even first quarter left both teams tied at 15, USM went into the halftime break up 11, 40-29, outscoring the Warriors 25-14 in the second quarter. Curley paced the Huskies' in the first half, torching the Warriors for 14 points, while Nicely had eight points and six rebounds, knocking down 4-of-7 from the field.
Led by nine points from Villard, Warriors cut into the Huskies' lead in the third quarter to trail by six, 53-47 headed into the fourth. Trailing 48-40 with 4:40 to play in the third, ECSU outscored USM 7-3 over the next three and half minutes to make it a four-point, 51-47, game. Villard scored five of the Warriors' seven points in the run which was capped by a pair of free throws from Jordan. USM stemmed the run, and extended its lead to six when Nicely made a strong move in the paint on a lead pass from Nicholson for the 53-47 score headed into the fourth.
In the fourth, ECSU twice cut the Huskies' lead to three, but each time USM was able to respond. The Warriors outscored USM 4-1 in the opening minute of the fourth on a layup from sophomore Sabrina LeMere (North Branford, Conn.) and a jumper from Jordan, but the Huskies used four straight points from Howrigan to push back and led 58-51 with 8:09 on the clock.
Another jumper from Jordan and a set of free throws from Villard saw the Huskies' lead again dwindle to a single possession, 58-55, with 6:39 on the clock, but USM responded with six unanswered points to extend its advantage to 64-55 with 5:23 to play. Nicely went 2-for-2 from the free throw line and was followed by another baseline jumper from Howrigan, before junior Alexa Srolovitz (Montreal, Quebec/New Hampton School) converted a layup off of a long-distance assist from Nicholson for the 6-0 swing. Both teams exchanged baskets over the next several minutes before USM closed out the game in the final three. USM outscored ECSU 9-2 in the final 180 seconds, including two layups from Nicely, a three from Nicholson and a pair of free throws from Srolovitz, for the 77-62 final.
Southern Maine finished the game shooting 52.5 percent (31-for-59) from the field, and 75.0 percent (12-for-16) from the free throw line. ECSU shot 40.7 percent (24-for-59) from the field. Led by Nicely, Eells and Howrigan, USM outscored the Warriors 44-24 in the paint.
Southern Maine travels to Plymouth State on Wednesday (5:30 p.m.) for a Little East Conference match up.
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