Garland’s 26 Leads Southern Maine Past Rhode Island College 72-68

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GORHAM, Maine – Senior guard Nicole Garland (Portland, Maine/Deering) scored a career-high 26 points to lead the University of Southern Maine Huskies to a 72-68 win over the Rhode Island College Anchorwomen in a Little East Conference women's basketball battle Saturday afternoon in Gorham, Maine.

            With the win, Southern Maine improves to 18-5 overall and 9-3 in the Little East Conference.  The loss stops Rhode Island College's 17-game winning-streak and drops its record to 20-3 and 11-1 in the Little East.

            Garland scored 12 of her 26 points in a pivotal 23-12 second half run to spur the Huskies to victory.  The 5-7 senior guard finished the game with four three-pointers and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.  Senior forward Courtney Cochran (Waite, Maine/Woodland) grabbed her ninth double-double of the season with 20 points and a game-high 20 rebounds.  Sophomore guard Erin McNamara (West Newbury, Mass./Pentucket Regional) added nine points and junior forward Haley Jordan (Falmouth, Maine) had eight points.  Junior forward Jordan Grant (Concord, N.H.) had a career-best 10 rebounds in a strong defensive effort off of the bench.  Grant added five points, two assists and two steals. 

            Senior guard Cynthia Gaudet (Coventry, R.I./La Salle Academy) led the Anchorwomen with 22 points, four assists and a game-high six steals.  Senior guard Stephanie Coro (N. Providence, R.I./N. Providence) tossed in 14 points, while junior forward Courtney Burns (Rockland, Mass.) added 12 points.  Senior forward Rachel Riley (Coventry, R.I.) added eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

            In a low scoring first half, the score was tied at 18 points each following a jumper from RIC's Burns with 5:35 to play.  The Huskies were able to take a modest 28-23 lead at the break outscoring the Anchorwomen 10-5 in the final five minutes of action.  Cochran and Garland led the Huskies' run with Cochran scoring the first six points followed by four straight from Garland.

            RIC opened up the second half on a 6-2 run on layups from Riley, Coro and Gaudet to pull to within a point of USM 30-29 with 17:44 on the clock before Garland kick-started the Huskies' offense.  Following Guadet's layup, Southern Maine connected on a three-pointer on its next four possessions.  Garland and senior forward Renee Nicholas (Sebago, Maine/Lake Region) sandwiched a layup from RIC's Burns for a 36-31 USM advantage.  Burns hit one of two free throws on RIC's next trip down the court before Garland canned back-to-back three for a 42-32 USM lead with 15:25 to play.  

            McNamara scored unanswered back-to-back buckets on USM's next two trips down the court before Guadet hit one free throw and Burns scored a layup for a 46-35 USM lead with 13:19 to play.  Ahead by 11, USM and RIC exchanged points with Cochran and Riley battling in the paint before Garland sank her fourth three-pointer of the game for a 53-37 USM lead with 11:04 to play.  

            RIC fought back to within six of the Huskies over the next six minutes of action and pulled to within 59-53 on a three-pointer from Gaudet to cap a 16-6 spurt with just over five minutes of action.  The Anchorwomen kept pace with the Huskies over the next four minutes and trailed by six 64-58 with 1:30 on the clock following another basket by Gaudet, but USM was able to close out the game at the free throw line making 8-of-10 from the stretch.  

            After a sub-par 8-for-31 effort in the first half, USM shot 52.0 percent (13-for-25) in the second half, including a 5-for-10 mark from three-point range. RIC shot 40.0 percent (24-for-60) from the field.  USM was 24-for-29 from the free throw line and RIC was 14-for-21.

            Southern Maine hosts Plymouth State University on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.).  Rhode Island College hosts Western Connecticut State on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.).