Although it has only existed in college basketball since 1980, the 3-point field goal has changed the landscape of the game tremendously, paving a path toward increased scoring and dramatic last-second shots all over the country.
USM senior women’s basketball player Kaylie DeMillo (Jay) knows the significance of the 3-pointer all too well. DeMillo passed former Husky Lori Towle — who has 196 career 3-pointers — on the all-time 3-point fields goals made list in a game against conference opponent UMass Dartmouth in North Dartmouth, Mass. on Feb 5. DeMillo needed five 3-pointers to claim the record, and that’s exactly how many she made as she shot 5-of-9 from behind the arc en route to a game-high 22 points, forever etching her name in the record books.
“It was one of those games you just felt on,” DeMillo said. “They stuck with us in the beginning, but once we got a little lead we were a lot more relaxed, and as a shooter, it’s a lot easier to play when you have that lead. I was able to get some open looks and my teammates were able to find me.”
DeMillo started finding her stroke at Jay High School, where she played in the competitive Class C Mountain Valley Conference. The senior captain — who now has 199 3-pointers in 109 career games with the Huskies — spent countless hours in the gym during the off-season polishing her technique in summer leagues and AAU games. It was a particular injury, though, that led to her deadly 3-point shooting at the college level.
DeMillo started her career with the Huskies as a point guard and got a lot of experience her freshman year playing with the likes of USM shooting greats Stacy Kent and Nicole Paradis— who are fifth and eighth on the all-time threes list with 158 and 113. Although she played in all 29 games that season, she didn’t get a lot of looks for threes because of the demanding responsibilities of a point guard to run the floor.
Her sophomore year was a different story, though. She became the victim of a knee injury in preseason — a PCL tear — and faced limited playing time for the first couple weeks of the season. When DeMillo returned to the court, all the point guard duties had shifted to Paradis, which in turn moved her to the shooting guard position.
“After the PCL injury I started shooting outside more,” DeMillo said. “I couldn’t drive as well to the basket, so that left me with a lot of open looks on the perimeter, especially since a lot of teams hadn’t heard of me.”
DeMillo soon became a legitimate outside threat for the Huskies. At the end of her sophomore year, she led the team with 76 3-pointers, increasing her tally by 63 from her freshman year, when she only made 13.
By the time her junior year rolled around, she was a respected perimeter shooter in the Little East Conference, and teams were putting their best defenders on her to stop the threat of the trey. She still got her looks though, as she concluded her junior year with a team-leading 67 3-pointers and a trip to the DIII NCAA Tournament for the 16th consecutive season.
She hasn’t slowed down this year either, as she’s drained 43 treys in 22 games and is leading a young and talented team to yet another tremendous season
A few key 3-pointers have highlighted her senior year so far. On Jan. 11, with the game tied at 71, the 5-7 senior guard took a pass from freshman point guard Erin McNamara (West Newbury, Mass) off a screen and sunk a baseline three as time expired to beat conference foe Rhode Island College, 74-71.
DeMillo sank another dagger 18 days later when she hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left and the game tied against Keene State, giving USM the 72-69 win. DeMillo credits a lot of her open looks to McNamara’s great floor vision and smarts.
“Erin does a great job driving and drawing defenders in, which leaves me open a lot to kick it out for a three,” DeMillo said. “She’s great to play with.”
Of course DiMillo’s signature step-back move — the move she used to drain the three against Keene — and unorthodox shooting technique are also catalysts for her deadly shooting from beyond the arc.
“I used the step-back all the time in high school, but when I came to USM I was a little hesitant to try it out because college defenders are a lot different,” she said. “Once I got more comfortable, though, I started using it more. It’s a great way to create space.”
Her senior season has been the host of another milestone, her 1,000th career point, which she surpassed when she scored 14 points in a game against Plymouth State on Jan. 19. She became the 19th Husky to reach the milestone.
“Since Kaylie’s freshman year, she has been a key component of our team,” USM head coach Gary Fifield said. “Her breakout game that year was when she scored 16 against Bates, and ever since then she’s been tremendous.”
“She is just a winner — a great competitor,” he said.
DeMillo wasn’t able to play in the Huskies’ first game of the NCAA Tournament her freshman year because of a sudden sickness. Fifield mentioned that if she played in that game they probably wouldn’t have lost — that’s how significant she has been over the last four years.
Although the 3-point field goal record is a great honor for DeMillo, she is mainly concerned with the team winning and finishing up the season on the right foot.
“I’m trying not to pay attention to the record right now,” she said. “I’m honored to hold it, and I’m sure after the season it will set in, but right now we’re just focusing on finishing strong and getting into the tournament. We have games to win.”