DARTMOUTH, Mass.—Freshman Megan Dixon (Hanover, Mass.) led three Beacons in double-figures, and#2 UMass Boston women's basketball played lockdown defense, to earn a spot in the Little East Conference Championship Game for a third time in four years.
#2 UMass Boston 61, #3 University of Southern Maine 46
(UMass Boston 24-3)
(Southern Maine 14-13)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Dixon tied her career-high with 21 points and the Beacons limited to Southern Maine to 13 or less points in every quarter.
The win sets up an all UMass Finals, as #1 UMass Dartmouth held off #4 Eastern Connecticut State University 76-63 in Friday's first semifinal. Both teams will be looking for their first-ever LEC Tournament Title.
Dixon led all players with 21 points, as she went 7-14 from the field and 4-8 from distance. The freshman guard guard added four rebounds, three assists and and one steal in 29 minutes.
Fellow freshman Joie Grassi (Plymouth, Mass.) tacked on 12 points, to go along with a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks. Senior Lydia Vital (Cambridge, Mass.) was the final Beacon in double-figures. Vital finished with 10 points, a game-high six assists and two steals.
Seniors Katie Mathieu (Coventry, Conn.) and Raven Kelsey (Boston, Mass.) combined for 10 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals. The two will each be playing in their program record third LEC Title Game on Saturday.
Southern Maine freshman Kristen Curley was the lone Husky to have a big game Friday. The talented guard finished with 15 points, a game-high eight rebounds and one block in 30 minutes.
Emily Nicholson chipped in seven points and five rebounds, while Morgan Eliasen posted six points and four rebounds off the bench.
UMass Boston jumped out to a hot start in the contest thanks to their strong 3-point shooting.
Kelsey and Grassi knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers on the Beacons second and third possessions and UMass Boston led 8-2 midway through the first quarter.
Southern Maine responded with their only big run of the game immediately afterwards. Alexa Srolovitz and Katie Howe keyed an 8-0 run to give the Huskies their only lead of the game (10-8) with 2:25 left in the first.
UMass Boston answered right back with five-straight points and 11 of the next 14. Dixon tied the game at 10 and Vital gave the Beacons the lead with a 3-pointer with 1:40 to go in the first. After Curley tied the game with a three of her own, Dixon knocked down two NBA distance threes to give the Beacons a 19-13 lead after one.
Southern Maine kept the Beacons quiet to start the second quarter and cut the deficit to 23-21 with 5:43 left in the first half. The Beacons put the game out of reach thanks to a 9-0 flurry.
Vital connected on two free throws, Grassi added five-straight points and Dixon chipped in two free throws of her own to push the lead to 32-21. UMass Boston would eventually go into the break leading 34-23.
The Beacons put the game away for good with a run to open the second half. Grassi, Mathieu and Vital combined for the first 10 points of the half to give UMass Boston their largest lead of the game to that point at 44-23.
Southern Maine managed to get within 15 points by the end of the quarter, but Dixon scored the first seven points of the fourth to put the game to bed (56-34).
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston earned their first-ever LEC Tournament win against perennial power Southern Maine. The Huskies had been 6-0 all-time against the Beacons in the LEC Tournament.
- The Beacons knocked down 10-31 3-pointers (32.3 percent), including 5-of-9 in the decisive first quarter.
- UMass Boston's bench earned a 27-16 edge in bench points and the Beacons held a 19-9 lead in assists.
- With the win, UMass Boston earns their first-ever season sweep of the Huskies. The Beacons are 6-3 in their last nine meetings against Southern Maine and 6-67 all-time.
- Mathieu will tie the program record for games played on Saturday, when she suits up for her 108th game as a Beacon. Former teammate Katrina Edwards ('17) also played in 108 games. Mathieu also sits third in program history with 135 made 3-pointers.
- Grassi moved into the top-10 in program history for points in a single-season on Friday. With her 12 points, Grassi now has 416 points on the season, just 11 points shy of fifth-place.
#2 UMass Boston will take on #1 UMass Dartmouth at Dartmouth's Tripp Athletic Center on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the LEC Championship Game.