GORHAM, Maine – The University of Southern Maine outscored Eastern Connecticut State University 19-7 over the final seven minutes in handing the Warriors their third straight Little East Conference loss, 77-62, Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium.
Eastern (3-10, 2-3 LEC) cut an 11-point deficit to three, 58-55, on a pair of free throws from sophomore forward Mya Villard (Cromwell), but Southern Maine (7-8, 4-1 LEC) scored six in a row and outscored the Warriors 19-7 the rest of the way to hand Eastern its fifth straight loss. USM is 7-2 since an 0-6 start.
Trailing by 11, 46-35 after Villard picked up her third personal foul with six minutes left in the third quarter, the Warriors pulled to within four, 51-47, in the final minute of the third quarter. Eastern got scoring from four different players in that run, with Villard totalling five in a row.
Eastern moved to within three points twice in the fourth quarter, the final time at 58-55 when Villard sank two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound with 6:39 left. The Huskies answered with six in a row after a timeout, however. Miranda Nicely swished two free throws to make it a five-point game, and after a pair of Eastern misses, Kim Howrigan connected on a jumper and Alexa Srolovitz dropped in an inside hoop as USM expanded the lead to nine, 64-55 with five minutes left.
Villard led both teams with 22 points and shared game-high rebounding honors with nine. She was 7-of-12 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the foul line. Sophomore guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) had 15 points and nine rebounds and junior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) added 12 points and five rebounds in 40 minutes.
Nicely of USM had 18 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench to pace five double-digit scorers. Freshman Kristen Curley torched Eastern for 14 first-half points but Santagata limited her to fur in the second half and a game total of 18. She also had six rebounds.
Eastern's starters played all but 15 minutes, with Nicely's 18 points helping the hosts outscore the Warriors 20-5 off the bench.
Eastern hosts Salem State University Monday at 5 p.m. in a non-conference game.