Panthers' upset bid falls short in final minutes
GORHAM, Maine – The University of Southern Maine women's basketball team used a 7-0 run over the final four minutes to fend off Plymouth State University, 67-60, in a back-and-forth Little East Conference (LEC) contest at Fifield Court on Thursday night.
The upset minded Panthers dip to 6-16 (2-9 LEC), while the Huskies escape with the win to improve to 12-10 and 8-3 in league play.
It was an up-and-down game that featured 11 ties and 10 lead changes with neither team able to pull ahead by double-digits. An early three-pointer for sophomore Brittany Roche (Londonderry, N.H.) put the Panthers ahead 5-2, but the Huskies responded with back-to-back triples to take the lead. A jumper from sophomore Alex Ricard (Manchester, N.H.) gave PSU an 11-10 lead midway through the opening quarter, but USM went back up 14-13 two minutes later. Junior Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) put the visitors ahead 17-16 with a driving layup with one minute to play in the frame, but a basket at the other end gave the Huskies an 18-17 lead after the first quarter.
Plymouth State started to pull away in the second quarter. With the score tied at 21-apiece the Panthers used a 9-0 spurt to grab a 30-21 lead. Junior Jess Conant (Canton, Maine) had a pair of jumpers in the run and Roche capped it off with a triple. USM answered as senior Emily Nicholson (Quispamsis, N.B.) hit from beyond the arc and scored from inside on the next possession. The Huskies cut the PSU lead to two points, 30-28, but Morrill sank a three as time expired to take a 33-28 lead into the halftime break.
Roche pushed the lead to 36-28 with a three to open the third quarter but the Huskies chipped away and a layup from freshman Kristen Curley (Gorham, Maine) evened the game at 40-40 after four minutes. The teams traded baskets until Southern Maine used a 6-0 spurt to take a 53-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
USM took its biggest lead of the game, 56-49, after a three-pointer from Nicholson in the opening minute, but the Panthers clawed back. Back-to-back baskets from sophomore Mary Beitzel (Lancaster, Pa.) cut the margin to 58-56 and Morrill's layup tied the game at 58-58 with six minutes to play. After USM went ahead 60-58 with an interior basket, junior Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) hit at the other end to tie the game at 60-60 with 4:12 remaining but the Panthers went cold from there as USM closed the game with seven-straight points to earn the win.
Roche was the top-scorer for PSU, finishing with 18 points while grabbing five rebounds. Morrill was solid all-around with 11 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals while playing all 40 minutes, and Conant finished with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Southern Maine was led by Curley's game-high 22 points, seven boards, four assists and four steals. Nicholson added 17 points and six assists, while senior Miranda Nicely (Farmington, Maine) chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
PSU will travel to the University of Massachusetts Boston on Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. LEC contest, before wrapping up the regular season with a pair of home games next week.
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