LEWISTON, Maine – Senior Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) had a game-high 22 points to lead three players in double figures and sophomore Kylani Lafleur sank a pair of crucial free throws in the closing seconds of the game as the University of Southern Maine Huskies defeated the Bates College Bobcats 78-72 in a non-conference men's basketball game Monday night at Alumni Gymnasium.
The win is the second straight for Southern Maine, improving its record to 6-17. Bates falls to 7-17 with the loss.
McCue was 9-for-18 from the field adding four assists and three rebounds, while senior Sean Jany (Westbrook, Maine) added 13 points. Senior Avaughn Brown (Hartford, Conn.) came off the bench to score 12 points. Junior Jayvon Pitts-Young (Portland, Maine) tossed in nine points, had nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Max Hummel led Bates with 20 points, while Jeff Spellamn had 19 on 7-for-14 shooting. Nick Lynch had a 12-point, 16-rebound double-double, while James Mortimer had 11 points for the Bobcats.
In a back-and-forth contest to start, Southern Maine trailed the Bobcats until the 13:02 mark when Jany gave the Huskies their first lead of the game, 11-9, converting a feed from McCue. The game remained relatively close, and USM led Bates by just two possessions 25-20 after a pair of free throws from Spellman before the Huskies grabbed their largest lead of the game 38-25 with with 3:40 to go in the half on the heels of a 13-5 run. Junior Derek Haney (Auburn, Calif./Placer) scored six of his nine points in the run. Down by double-digits, Bates closed the half on a tear, outscoring USM 10-1 in the final 3:40 however to head into the halftime break down by just a bucket 39-37. Hummel scored seven of the Bobcats 10 in the run.
Spellman scored the first point of the second half to pull Bates to within one, 39-38, but USM's McCue and Pitts-Young combined for the game's next six points to extend the Husky advantage to 45-38 with 17:38 to go in the half. Southern Maine remained in front but the Bobcats stayed within striking distance pulling to within four points, twice. After Bates' Mortimer made two free throws for a 65-61 game with 7:21 on the clock, junior Keenan Hendricks (Owls Head, Maine/Oceanside) and Jany connected on a jumper and a three respectively to lead 70-61 with 5:55 remaining.
A McCue jumper with just over four minutes to play gave the Huskies a seemingly safe 72-63 advantage, but Bates again put together a run, 7-0, capped by a three from Spellman to make it a one-possession game 72-20 with 96 seconds in regulation. The Huskies went 0-for-4 during the Bates' run with a pair of turnovers.
With its lead slashed to a bucket, Southern Maine got a critical bucket from Jany to go ahed 74-70 with a minute to go. Jany came up big with a blocked shot on the Huskies' next defensive possession, but Spellman worked his way around the offensive glass for a tip in to again make it a one-basket game, 74-72. With Bates forced to put USM on the line, the Huskies twice had an opportunity to seal the game but came up empty on both one-and-one attempts. During the second, Bates had a good look at the basket, but Nick Lynch was fouled and was unable to convert the free throws. On the second miss, LaFleur cleared the glass for USM and then made both free throws after being fouled to seal the win. McCue hit the final two free throws for USM for the 78-72 final.
Southern Maine returns to Little East Conference action on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) and travels to Plymouth State.