By Nick Beauchesne
The University of Southern Maine men’s basketball team won an overtime thriller Wednesday night against the UMass Boston Beacons in a Little East Conference game that, even with a month left in the regular season, had serious postseason implications.
The Huskies (9-7 overall and 3-3 in-conference) were able to overcome a three-point shot by Beacon’s senior Quandry Allen that tied the game with one second to go in regulation, dominating the overtime period by a 16-7 margin.
With four different players in double figures, USM’s balanced attack was spearheaded by a 23 point effort from senior guard Jose Nouchanthavong (Westbrook, Maine), and 17 points from senior Cole Libby (Buxton, Maine/Bonny Eagle). Ten of Libby’s 17 points came in the second half and overtime.
“This was a big win for us,” Huskies’ head coach Karl Henrikson said. “Every game in conference is important in terms of seeding for the playoffs. Our conference is so strong at the top that no one wants to go into the tournament as a bottom seed and have to play on the road in the first round.”
With the victory, the Huskies moved to moved to .500 in conference play with eight league games left in the season, including a home match-up against top-ranked Eastern Connecticut State on Saturday.
Along with Nouchanthavong and Colby, Junior Zach Neal (York, Maine) scored 16 points and Senior Aaron Toman (Gardiner, Maine) dropped in ten to round out the quartet of Huskies in double figures.
Having battled through injuries to key players throughout the season, the Huskies have won three out of their last four games, all of which were against conference opponents. This recent run has propelled USM into a four way tie for third place in the LEC.
The team seems to be finding its stride at a crucial point in the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the team starting to get on a roll, they are well-positioned to make some noise come as the regular season winds down and tournament play approaches.