By: David Sanok
In what was a back-and-forth game throughout most of the night, the second-seeded USM Huskies women’s basketball team eventually pulled away with a 53-45 victory over the seventh-seeded UMass Boston Beacons on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Although the Huskies went on to lose in the final game, they had a great run this season ending with a 20-8 record.
Though the final point-spread was not particularly slim, the final score does not tell the full story. For Huskies Coach Gary Fifield, the slow start contributed to the overall lackluster performance on the part of his team. “We just didn’t come and play our best game,” said Fifield. “We practiced so well the days leading up to this game, yet we still came out flat.”
The Huskies only had a slim 24-22 at the end of the first half. It was not until midway through the second half that the Huskies finally began to get in a rhythm. “We just came out in the second half, made the baskets, and got in sync offensively. Most importantly, we played more aggressively on defense,” said Fifield. But even with the Huskies 10-1 run that widened the score to 45-33, the Beacons would stage a late rally, cutting the lead to 49-44.
With 1:10 left to go in the game, the Beacons called timeout to strategize their next offensive play. But that opportunity would not come about, for when UMass Boston senior Elisa Ogawa passed the ball inbound to UMass Boston freshman Mallory Nelson, she didn’t see the ball coming her way as it bounced off her face, and it was recovered by USM junior Taylor Flood. Her critical rebound allowed the Huskies to take more time off the clock and add more points as USM seniors Erin McNamara and Mariah Callender each hit two free throws to seal the 53-45 win.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my 26 years as a coach,” said Fifield. “It’s not a pretty way to end a ball game, but we will take anything we can in order to win.”
With this victory, USM improved to a 19-7 record, and they advanced to the LEC semifinals tournament where they faced the third-seeded Eastern Connecticut State Warriors last Friday, Feb. 28.
“We are going to have to play much better against the Warriors this Friday (Feb. 28) if we want to win and continue on in the playoffs,” said Fifield. “It will all just depend on how well we execute ourselves on the court and how we finish the game.”
After USM’s 58-49 win over Eastern Connecticutt on Friday, Feb. 28, they advanced to the LEC final game against Rhode Island College on this past Saturday, March 1. Though the Huskies played strong they did not prevail and suffered a 59-64 loss to take second place overall in the Little East Conference. The Huskies wait for an anouncement about a possible NCAA tournament post-season.