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USM downs PSC for LEC crown

GORHAM, Maine - Freshman Tiffany Jones (Skowhegan, Maine) earned Tournament Most Outstanding Performer honors after scoring a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the second half, and hauling in a team-co-high 8 rebounds to lead the University of Southern Maine Huskies to their seventh consecutive Little East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament title with a 75-64 win over the Plymouth State College Panthers Saturday afternoon at the Hill Gym.

In the 17-year history of the LEC Tournament, the Huskies have now won the title 14 times, and will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It will be the Huskies ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their 17th overall. Pairings, dates and times for the 50-member Tournament field will be announced Sunday evening.

In addition, Southern Maine extended its current winning streak to 12 in a row, and improved to 25-3, while Plymouth State slips to 20-8.

Southern Maine took its largest lead of the game at 53-43, when sophomore guard Kristen Tong (Swanzey, N.H.) scored a spinning layup and converted the ensuing free throw with 10:51 to play.

The Panthers answered with an 11-3 run, culminating on a driving layup by senior guard Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) run to pull within 56-54 with 8:29 remaining. However, the Panthers would cut the deficit no further.

Southern Maine went up by as many as eight points on two occasions, with the final time occurring at 66-58 with 2:30 to play. A three-pointer by junior guard Brandy Adams (Jaffrey, N.H.) cut the deficit to 66-61 with 2:10 remaining.

The Huskies closed out the game with a 9-3 run, connecting on 7-of-8 foul shots down the stretch to account for the 75-64 final.

Southern Maine closed out the first half with a 7-0 run to take a 34-28 advantage into the break. The six point lead represented the largest advantage either side had enjoyed in the first half, which featured six ties and nine lead changes.

The Huskies' halftime lead was on the strength of their outside shooting. Six players combined to score nine three pointers in the opening 20 minutes. Overall, Southern Maine scored just 11 first half baskets.

Junior guard Meg Cressler (Appleton, Maine) added 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while senior forward Jess Libby (Orono, Maine) contributed nine points and nine rebounds.

Plymouth State was paced by senior forward Whitney Morin (Derby Line, VT), who scored 21 points, while senior forward Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Pelletier added 12 points.

PSC awaits a possible ECAC New England Tournament berth, which will be announced Monday. The Panthers are the defending ECAC Tournament champions. (Courtesy USM Sports Information)