KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Three University of Maine players hit home runs to lead the Black Bears by the Holy Cross Crusaders 5-2 in softball action Thursday.
It was Maine’s second straight win in the first game of a Rebel Games tournament doubleheader.
Alexis Souhlaris hit her team-leading seventh homer this season for the 7-10 Bears while second baseman Ashley Waters hit her second and outfielder Kali Burnham. Senior Jenna Balent improved her record to 3-1 by picking up the victory.
Caitlin Belanger and Courtney Nealon each hit RBI singles for the 1-7 Crusaders.
Villanova 97, Providence 80
VILLANOVA, Pa. — Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points and helped No. 11 Villanova finish a perfect season at the Pavilion and earn a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a 97-80 victory over Providence on Thursday night.
Reynolds hit three clutch 3-pointers for the Wildcats (25-6, 13-5) in the second half that stretched the lead into double digits.
and pushed back a Providence team that badly needed this win to strengthen its NCAA tournament chances.
Weyinmi Efejuku was sensational in stretches for the Friars (18-12, 10-8), finishing with 29 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He scored 12 straight points for them in the second half and kept the upset bid alive.
Instead, the Wildcats survived to win their 28th straight game at their on-campus home.
The Wildcats will get two extra days’ rest, not opening play in the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden until Thursday.
The loss doesn’t necessarily cripple Providence’s at-large chances, but it will need to win at least a game or two in New York to feel good about getting picked for the field of 65.
Dwayne Anderson scored 19 points, Dante Cunningham shook off a sluggish 4-for-13 start to score 19, and Reggie Redding had a career-high 11 assists for Villanova.
The Wildcats had season highs in assists (26) and steals (19) to improve to 13-0 at the Pavilion this season.
They had to work to win this one, and didn’t turn it into a rout until the final few minutes. The Wildcats kept up the pressure against the Friars, forced turnovers and converted them into easy baskets.
The turning point came midway through the half when Corey Fisher hit a 3, then scooped the loose ball off a quick turnover and dished to Reynolds for the easy basket and a 63-51 lead.
Reynolds hit his three 3s from there, his final one making it 76-65. They went on a late 13-0 run — highlighted by a 3 by Stokes — that had Villanova playing the deep reserves in the final minute. Coach Jay Wright pumped his fist as he sprinted off the court.
Efejuku made his first five shots and scored 12 points in the first 4 minutes of the game. Then he missed his final four shots of the half.
After a rare spell of sloppy play late in the first half, Wright was livid and lit into his team during a timeout. Reynolds and Shane Clark hit consecutive 3s coming out of it to make it a 12-point lead, and Stokes hit two 3s in the final minutes to give the Wildcats a 40-34 halftime lead.