GORHAM, Maine—The University of Southern Maine (12-6, 4-3 Little East) used an 11-2 lead midway through the second half to knock off UMass Boston women's basketball (11-7, 3-5 Little East) 55-47 Tuesday evening at Hill Gymnasium.
After the Beacons took their first and only lead of the game at 30-29 behind a 9-0 run, the Huskies scored the next six points and 12 of the next 14 to grab a commanding 41-32 lead, in a game that proved to be a defensive, grind-it-out contest all evening long.
Olivia Murphy (Canton, Mass.) paced the Beacons with 13 points and 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. The sophomore registered her 12th double-double of the season and 22nd of her career, each of which is one short of the program-record, by knocking down 6-of-12 shots on the night.
Junior Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) and Mallory Nelson (Topsham, Maine) managed to make the game interesting in the final minutes with 12 of their combined 20 points coming over the final 8:26. Morrison ended the night with 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench, while Nelson accounted for eight points and eight rebounds in one of the most complete games of her freshman season.
Rebecca Knight and Megan Pelletier were the lone Huskies to finish in double-figures, with Knight recording 12 points and seven rebounds and Pelletier adding 11 points and five boards. Junior guard Meghan Gallagher added all seven of her points in the second half to move the Huskies to a season-high two-games over .500 in conference play.
Both teams' defenses dominated Tuesday night, with UMass Boston shooting just 17-of-53 (32.1 percent) and Southern Maine hitting 33.8 percent (22-of-65) from the field. The two teams struggles were even more amplified from behind the arc, where the Beacons knocked down just 20 percent (4-for-20) of their threes and the Huskies connected on a season-low 13.3 percent (2-of-15) 3-pointers.
The Huskies built a strong 10-3 lead over the first 7:52 behind a pair of baskets each from Pelletier and Hannah Fenwick. UMass Boston countered with their best stretch of the first half, scoring eight of the next 10 points to cut the deficit to 12-11 at the 10:28 mark. Nelson started the flurry with a layup and senior guards Andrea Suffredini (Milford, Mass.) and Shelby Buck (Greenfield, Ohio) added 3-pointers.
From there it would be all Huskies for the rest of the half, as the hosts built a 10-point advantage and eventually went into the half leading 29-21.
UMass Boston came out of the break on fire, knocking down four of their first five shots to grab a 30-29 lead with 14:38 to play. Murphy and Morrison started the stretch with back-to-back layups and Murphy tacked on a jump shot to cut the deficit to 29-27. Morrison knocked down 1-of-2 free throws to make it a one-point game and Murphy drained another jump shot, off of a Nelson assist, to give the Beacons their lone lead of the day.
Southern Maine had an answer though as Gallagher and Pelletier combined to score eight of the next 12 points for the Huskies to grab a 41-32 lead with 7:10 to play.
The Beacons cut the deficit to five on a Nelson layup with 3:59 to play, but that would be as close as UMass Boston would get, as the Huskies managed to knock down three of their final five attempts from the field.