GORHAM, Maine – Junior Jackie Luckhardt (Londonderry, N.H.) filled the stat sheet with a team-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds, seven assists and four steals as the third-seed University of Southern Maine Huskies' women's basketball team defeated the sixth-seed Castleton University Spartans 63-40 in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Little East Conference Women's Basketball Championship Tournament Tuesday night at Hill Gymnasium.
With the win, Southern Maine advances to the semifinals of the 2019 LEC tournament and will face second-seed Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors on Friday (7:30 pm) at UMass Dartmouth's Tripp Athletic Center. Fifth-seed Rhode Island College will play top-seed and 2019 regular season champion UMass Dartmouth on Friday (5:30 pm) in the other semifinal game. RIC defeated UMass Boston 66-44 earlier today.
Luckhardt was an outstanding 7-for-9 from the field as the Huskies shot 50.9 percent (28-for-54) as a team. Senior Alexa Srolovitz (Montreal, Quebec/New Hampton (NH)) had 11 points, five rbounds and three assists on 5-for-9 shooting, while freshman Victoria Harris (Altus, Okla./Lewiston) added 11 points, three steals and a blocked shot on 5-for-6 shooting. Junior Kristina Blais (Lewiston, Maine) and sophomore Kristen Curley (Gorham, Maine) each had eight points. Curley had four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot, while Blais dished off five assists.
Sophomore Brooke Raiche (Ira, Vermont/West Rutland) led the Spartans with 15 points shooting 7-for-15 from the field. Senior Abbie Lesure (Vernon, Vermont/Brattleboro Union) had nine points five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a blocked shot.
After a closely played first half, Southern Maine held a modest five-point advantage over the Spartans, 27-21. The Huskies led 11-9 at the end of one quarter after Srolovitz hit a last-second jumper on a designed play as both teams shot in the 30s to open the game. Harris opened the second quarter with a strong move in the paint and earned the and-one, and went on to score seven of the Huskies' 16 points in the quarter as USM outscored Castleton 16-13 in the frame.
Raiche and Southern Maine senior Kimberly Howrigan (Fairfield, Vermont/Bellows Free Academy) exchanged buckets to open the third, and Raiche's bucket in the paint off of an assist from junior Katlyn Toomey (North Adams, Mass./Dury) had the Spartans within two possessions of USM, 31-26, with 6:11 to go in the third. However, Raiche's points were the last of the quarter of the Spartans as USM closed the quarter on a 10-0 run while holding Castleton to an 0-for-7 effort from the field with three turnovers. Curley led the Huskies in the run, scoring the final four points in the quarter for a 41-26 lead heading into the fourth.
Harris and Luckhardt each scored to open the fourth to give USM its largest lead 45-26 with 9:14 on the clock. Castleton bounced back with the help of threes from Lesure and senior Ajla Medic (Burlington, Vermont) and trimmed its deficit to 13, 51-38, with 3:21 to play after a pair of free throws from freshman Tessa Davenport (Wallingford, Vermont/Mill River Union), but it was as close as the Spartans would get. After Davenport's free throws, Blais hit a layup in transition on a length of the court inbound pass from freshman Michelle Rowe (Gorham, Maine) and converted the and-one to start a 12-2 game ending run for the 63-40 final.