Little East Quarterfinal Preview: #7 Women's Basketball at #2 Southern Maine
Seventh-seeded UMass Boston women's basketball (13-12, 4-10 Little East) is set to travel to take on defending champion University of Southern Maine (18-7, 10-4 Little East) Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Little East Conference Quarterfinals.
Tuesday February 25, 2014
SEASON SERIES: The second-seeded Huskies lead the all-time series 63-0, after handing the Beacons a pair of single-digits losses earlier this season.
Southern Maine earned a 55-47 victory in the first contest at Hill Gymnasium. After trailing 29-21 at halftime, the Beacons used a 9-0 run to grab their lone lead of the contest at 30-29 with 14:38 to play. The Huskies answered with a 12-2 run of their own to take control behind eight combined points from Megan Pelletier and Erin McNamara. Sophomore forward Olivia Murphy (Canton, Mass.) led UMass Boston with 13 points and 15 rebounds in the loss, while junior Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) added 12 points and nine rebounds.
The second contest between the two sides proved to be even closer, as Southern Maine hung on for a 49-48 victory last Tuesday, in the closest-ever game between the two programs. Southern Maine built a double-digit lead (39-27) at the 11:17 mark of the second half, but Morrison led UMass Boston back into the game, with 12 of her 18 second-half points coming during an 18-2 UMass Boston run. McNamara and the Huskies responded with a 6-1 run of their own to close out the game to earn the victory. Morrison paced the Beacons with 18 points and six rebounds, while Andrea Suffredini (Milford, Mass.) chipped in with 13 points and three assists.
SCOUTING THE BEACONS: Despite their seventh-place finish, UMass Boston women's basketball has proven that they are capable of competing against the top teams in the Little East. The Beacons knocked off each of the three teams directly ahead of them in the LEC standings and came within single-digits of defeating Southern Maine in back-to-back contests for the first time in school history.
If the Beacons are going to pull off the upset, they will need to control the paint. Even with Murphy, the conference's leading scorer (15.9 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (10.6 rbg), missing the second contest, UMass Boston earned a 22-8 advantage in points in the paint. Morrison has come up big for the Beacons in both games, averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds, while shooting 53 percent. Freshman Katrina Edwards (Springfield, Mass.) and Brittany Moore (Billerica, Mass.) have provided nice depth inside and will need to step up if Murphy is unable to play in the contest.
The Beacons' backcourt is led by Suffredini and freshman Mallory Nelson (Tospham, Maine). Suffredini sits third on the Beacons with 8.4 points per game and tied for third in the Little East Conference with her 3.4 assists per game. Nelson has been a nice second-half surprise for the Beacons, as she enters the contest averaging six points, 3.3 rebounds and an assist per game.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES: After a surprisingly slow start to the conference season, Southern Maine ended the year on an 8-1 run against LEC foes. Southern Maine used a 56-38 victory over third-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday, to wrap up the second seed in the tournament.
Gary Fifield's team is led by a trio of native Mainers: in McNamara, Pelletier and sophomore Rebecca Knight. McNamara ranks fifth in the Little East with her 13.4 points per game, sixth with 3.3 assists per game and second with her 1.9 made three-pointers per game. Pelletier and Knight provide the scoring inside, as the two players have combined to average 19.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
LOOKING FORWARD: The winner of Tuesday night's matchup will advance to Friday's Little East Conference Semifinals to take on the winner of #3 Eastern Connecticut State University and #6 Keene State College.