March 6, 2009

Courtesy of Southern Maine Athletics

AMHERST, Mass. -- Sophomore Kristin LeBel (Tolland, Conn.) and junior Iman Davis (Toms River, N.J./St. George's School) combined for 37 points as Emmanuel College overcame a six-point deficit midway through the second half to defeat the University of Southern Maine, 55-49, Friday in a first round game of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament played at LeFrak Gymnasium on the campus of Amherst College.

LeBel and Iman scored 33 of their 37 points in the second half as the Saints rallied for their seventh straight win. LeBel, who did not score a point in the opening half, connected on 6-of-10 shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 three-pointers, and 8-of-9 at the foul line to finish with a game-high 22 points. Iman netted 11 of her 15 points after the break making 5-of-10 from the floor.

Sophomore Kaylie DeMillo (Jay, Maine) led a balanced USM offense with 12 points. Senior Stacey Kent (Northwood, N.H.) contributed 10 points. All five USM starters scored at least six points, and junior Haley Johnson (West Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) and sophomore Kristi Violette (Readfield, Maine/Cony) each had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Southern Maine was hurt by poor shooting, connecting on just 34 percent (17 of 50) of its shots from the floor, and made a season-high 24 turnovers. Emmanuel shot only 38.5 percent (20 of 52) for the game, but made 11-of-24 shots in the second half (46 percent).

Despite scoring 19 points in the first half, the Huskies trailed by only two at halftime. After LeBel hit a three-pointer to open the second half, the Huskies clawed their way back into the game to build a six-point advantage, 36-30, midway through the half.

USM used an 11-2 run, ignited by two DeMillo baskets, to take its biggest lead with 10:40 to play after junior Ruthie Briggs (Springvale, Maine/Sanford) made 1-of-2 free throws to make it 36-30.

Davis and LeBel sparked a 7-0 run over a span of 1:36 to regained the lead for the Saints. In the ensuing four minutes, the teams traded the lead five times and there was one tie before LeBel scored six straight points to give the Saints a 49-45 lead with 3:52 to go.

The Huskies got within three, 52-49, with 1:07 left when Johnson scored on a layup, but the Huskies would miss two three-point tries, and LeBel converted 3-of-4 freebies in the final minute to clinch the decision.

Southern Maine finishes the season 22-7 overall. Emmanuel, which has won 17 of its last 18 games, is also 22-7, and moves on to play the winner of the Amherst College-Babson College game on Saturday.

Kent, USM's only senior, finished her standout career scoring 1,187 points, 11th on the all-time list. She also had 511 rebounds, 206 assists and 142 steals, and ranks among the career leaders in 3-point field goals made (158) and 3-point shooting percentage.