WILLAMANTIC, Conn. – Junior Jackie Luckhardt (Londonderry, N.H.) and freshman Victoria Harris (Altus, Okla./Lewiston) combined for 29 points and the University of Southern Maine Huskies extended their win streak to six games with a 64-56 win over the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors in a Little East Conference women's basketball game Thursday night at Geissler Gymnasium.
With the win, Southern Maine improves to 5-1 in the Little East Conference, and 9-2 overall. The Huskies are 3-1 on the road this season. Eastern Connecticut suffers its second straight loss in conference action and is now 8-5 overall and 4-2 in the Little East.
Luckhardt scored a season-high 15 points to lead three players in double figures for Southern Maine. The 5-4 guard added seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Harris scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and had five rebounds, a blocked shot, an assist and a steal in 18 minutes off of the bench. Senior Kimberly Howrigan (Fairfield, Vermont/Bellows Free Academy) had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Sophomore Kristen Curley (Gorham, Maine) and senior Alexa Srolovitz (Montreal, Quebec/New Hampton School) chipped in with seven and six points each in a balanced effort.
Julie Jordan was 5-for-11 from the field for a team-high 12 points to pace Eastern Connecticut, adding six rebounds and three steals, while Sabrina LeMere tossed in 11 points as the only other Warrior with double-digits in scoring. Mya Villard had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Warriors, while Jenna Serrantino chipped in with seven points. Kelsey Santagata had six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Southern Maine scored the first seven points of the game and led wire-to-wire in the contest, but had to overcome several Eastern Connecticut surges to earn its fifth conference win of the season. Ahead 13-2 on a steal and a jumper from junior Kristina Blais (Lewiston, Maine) with 5:15 to play in the first, Southern Maine saw its lead trimmed to two-possessions, 17-12, on a pair of free throws from Eastern's Aiyana Ward to complete a 10-4 run with 47 seconds to play in the quarter. However, Blais came up with another steal and found Luckhardt for a layup as the time expired for a 19-12 lead heading into the second.
Eastern stayed with the Huskies in the second quarter and trailed by a basket on three occasions. The Warriors were down 24-22 on two free throws from Julie Keckler with 3:45 left in the half, but Southern Maine closed out the frame on a 10-0 run to lead 34-22 at the break. Four different players scored in the run for the Huskies led by four points from Luckhardt.
The Huskies remained comfortably in front of the Warriors in the third and took their largest lead of the game 47-33 with 2:22 to play on a steal and an assist from Luckhardt to Harris. Eastern scored the final four points of the quarter but trailed by 11 heading into the fourth down 48-37.
Attempting the comeback, Eastern Connecticut outscored the Huskies 11-2 in the first five minutes of the fourth led by five points from Serrantino, including a three with 5:28 to play making it a 50-48 game. After a timeout, USM turned the ball over on a steal from Jordan and Santagata hit a jumper for a tie game, 50-50, with 4:47 on the clock. With its doube-digit lead erased, Southern Maine's responded with back-to-back buckets from Harris, a steal from Curley, and two free throws from Luckhardt to jump ahead 56-50 with 2:35 left. Jordan scored on Eastern's next possession to stop the USM run, but Harris converted another bucket in the paint for a 58-52 Husky lead. Eastern was unable to get closer than five points in the final 90 seconds and the Huskies held for the 64-56 win as Harris scored seven of her 14 points in the final quarter.
Southern Maine has a quick turnaround and will face top-ranked Bowdoin College on Saturday (6:00 p.m.). The Polar Bears are ranked No. 1 in Division III and are 13-0.