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Southern Maine Wins 20th Women's Basketball Title

Southern Maine Wins 20th Women's Basketball Title

GORHAM, Maine – Senior forward Jordan Grant (Concord, N.H.) scored a game-high 23 points to lead four players in doubles figures as the nationally-ranked University of Southern Maine Huskies defeated the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs 90-66 to earn their 20th Little East Conference Tournament Championship Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium in Gorham, Maine.

With the win, ninth-ranked Southern Maine improves to 27-1 and punches its ticket to the 2013 NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament. The NCAA will announce its field of 64 and the Huskies' opponent on Monday afternoon. UMass Dartmouth, making its first appearance in the LEC final, falls to 20-8. The Huskies earned their 21st regular season championship and 20th tourney championship in 27 season of the Little East.

Grant was 7-for-15 from the field for 23 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double with nine. Senior guard Nicole Garland (Portland, Maine) added 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, while senior guard Haley Jordan (Falmouth, Maine) tossed in 17 points. Garland and Jordan were named co-Tournament Most Outstanding Players. Sophomore forward Rebecca Knight (Alfred, Maine) added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior forward Colleen Moriarty (Canton, Mass.) led the Corsairs with 20 points and nine rebounds. Junior forward Erika Bornemann (Canton, Mass.) knocked down five three-pointers en route to 16 points, while sophomore guard Kelsey Garrity (Somerville, Mass.) added 10 points and a game-high seven assists.

After a nip and tuck opening three minutes, the Huskies narrowly led the Corsairs 6-4. Moriarty's layup off of a Garrity assist at the 15:59 mark pulled UMD to within a possession before the Huskies outscored Corsairs 26-9 over the next ten minutes to take control of the game. Following Moriarty's layup, USM scored nine straight points. Garland kick started the run with the first of her four three-pointers in the game, while Knight scored the final four points for a 15-4 lead. A jumper from sophomore guard Melissa Daigle (Rockland, Mass.) interrupted the Huskies charge, but USM followed with six more points, including a coast-to-coast basket from Grant after a steal.

Ahead 21-6 with 10:49 left in the half, five quick points from freshman guard Beth Castantini (Newburyport, Mass.) on a three and a layup pulled the Corsairs to within 12, 23-11, but USM again created separation with a 9-2 run for a 32-13 lead with 6:14 on the clock. Grant and Jordan each had four points. USM outscored the Corsairs 16-14 in the final six minutes of the half, capped by a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Garland in the face strong defensive pressure, to lead 48-27 at the break.

In the second half, both teams traded baskets and the Corsairs trailed by 18, 56-38, following a pair of Moriarty free throws. However, USM's Knight took over for the next three possessions scoring six unanswered points with strong moves in the paint to give the Huskies their largest lead 62-38 with 15:07 to play.

Trailing 69-47, the Corsairs used a 7-0 run midway through the half to pull to within 15 of the Huskies, 69-54, with 7:44 to play, but it was as close as they would get the rest of the way as USM cruised to the conference crown.