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PSC can't stop red-hot #5 Southern Maine

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Sophomore Megan Cressler (Appleton, Maine) scored 18 points to help the University of Southern Maine post its 18th consecutive victory Tuesday night, a 79-75 decision over Plymouth State College in a Little East Conference women's basketball game at Foley Gymnasium.

The Huskies, who are ranked fifth in the d3hoops.com national poll, improve to 21-1 on the season and remain perfect in the conference at 11-0. PSC loses the season series to USM and dips to 13-7 overall and 6-5 in the LEC.

Cressler connected on four three-pointers to lead the Huskies' offense. Junior Kara Crockett (Glenburn, Maine) and junior Jess Libby (Orono, Maine) contributed 13 points apiece for USM, while senior Niki Dominiczak (Dixfield, Maine) added 11 points and six assists.

The Panthers got a career-high 25-point effort from junior Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.), who hit four three-pointers of her own. Classmate Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) was the only other Panther to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points along with nine rebounds and eight assists.

After a see-saw first half, which saw 13 lead changes, the Panthers held a three-point advantage (38-35) going into the break. It remained close throughout the second half, with neither team leading by more than four points until the Huskies surged ahead 67-62 with 4:23 to play.

PSC cut the lead to one point (67-66) on a three-pointer by Morin with 3:48 remaining, and was within two points (72-70) with 1:47 on the clock. But sophomore Nikki Allen (Blue Hill, Maine) and senior Jaime Zahm (Montpelier, Vt.) combined for six straight USM points and the Huskies held on for the win.

While the Huskies shot a solid 52 percent from the field, they struggled at the free throw line, going just 13-of-24. PSC hit only 39 percent from the field, but sank 20 of 26 from the line.

The Panthers are home again Saturday (Feb. 9) with a conference game against UMass Boston (1:00 p.m.).