GORHAM (NEWS CENTER) - Senior guard Nicole Garland (Portland, Maine/Deering) and sophomore forward Rebecca Knight (Alfred, Maine/McAuley) combined to score 31 points to lead the University of Southern Maine Huskies to a 59-54 win over rival Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors in a Little East Conference women's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium in Gorham, Maine.
The win extends the Huskies' unbeaten streak to six games and improves their record to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the Little East. Eastern Connecticut falls to 1-5 and 0-1 in the conference with its fourth straight loss.
Knight was 8-for-10 from the field for a game-high 19 points while Garland added 12 points. Knight grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists and three steals. Garland had four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Senior forward Jordan Grant (Concord, N.H.) added nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Sophomore Kristina Forsman (Newington, Conn.) led the Warriors with 17 points. Freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Willimantic, Conn.) racked up a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield, Conn.) grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds to compliment six points and help the Warriors to a 48-31 advantage on the boards.
Despite starting the game in rhythm and holding a solid nine-point, 16-7, lead at the 11:45 mark of the first half, Southern Maine nearly gave the game away on the offensive glass and trailed Eastern 31-30 at the break. Ahead by six, 30-24, with 2:20 remaining in the half after a layup from Knight, Eastern used a 7-0 run to grab the lead, helped by a pair of offensive rebounds and five points from Forsman.
In the second half, both teams battled back and forth before a three-pointer from junior forward Nash Biliew (Portland, Maine) gave the Huskies the lead 37-35 with 16:09 remaining. Biliew's three ignited a game-deciding 10-0 run for the Huskies. Biliew score the first five points of the run for USM while Knight added a traditional three-point play and a layup for the final five and a 44-35 lead with 13:15 to play.
The Huskies would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game but were unable to grab more than a nine-point lead over the pesky Warriors for the remainder of the game. The Warriors, who grabbed 18 offensive boards, scored 17 of their 54 points off of second chance buckets and clawed their way back to within two possessions three times in the final four minutes.
A pair of free throws from Ritrosky had the Warriors down by four, 56-52, with 2:21 to play, before snagged one of her five offensive boards and sank yet another pair of free throws to pull Eastern within a bucket, 56-54 with 57 seconds to play. The Huskies were able to get some breathing room as junior guard Erin McNamara (West Newbury, Mass./Pentucket Regional) broke a full court press and sank a layup on the Huskies ensuing possession for a 58-54 lead with 44 seconds to play. McNamara then scored one of two free throws in the final 30 seconds for the 59-54 final.
Southern Maine hosts Salem State on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.