BANGOR, Maine — Husson University averaged 92 points in its two regular-season victories over Green Mountain College.
Just last Friday, Husson cruised to a 30-point win over the Eagles of Poultney, Vt.
Tuesday night, with the season on the line, Green Mountain was able to contain that same Husson ballclub.
Junior guard Trent Morgan scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, helping No. 5 Green Mountain claim a 72-68 North Atlantic Conference men’s quarterfinal basketball victory over No. 4 Husson at Newman Gym.
Morgan, who returned to basketball in January and hadn’t played in two years after leaving Division I Kent State, had six points during a key 10-0 surge that helped Green Mountain (9-16) earn a berth in Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against top seed and host University of Maine-Farmington.
“Playoffs, anything can happen any given night,” said Morgan, whose poised play at the point kept Green Mountain in synch throughout.
“We bounced back,” he added. “They beat us by 30 on Friday. We just had to take a few steps back, see what we did wrong and try to critique ourselves and then just come in the ballgame and play as tough as we can.”
Coach Todd Montana’s team avenged two lopsided losses to Husson, including an 86-66 setback Jan. 23 in Vermont. This time, Green Mountain controlled the tempo better.
“We wanted to make sure we made three, four, five passes, tried to make them work defensively,” said Montana, who used only six of his eight players, including four who played the full 40 minutes.
“By now I think we’re conditioned to be able to handle it,” he added.
Green Mountain contained Husson mainstays Brock Bradford and Matt MacKenzie, who combined for only 11 points.
“We were determined that as many good players as they have, we were going to make somebody different [than MacKenzie] beat us this time,” said Montana, whose team double- and triple-teamed the rugged forward in the post.
Husson (15-11) never seemed to get into a good offensive flow. The hosts appeared to be in control, leading 56-48 with 8:22 remaining.
However, coach Warren Caruso’s team committed four turnovers to fuel GMC’s 10-0 run and never fully recovered.
“We could have stretched the lead out to 10, 12 [points] and we didn’t do our job,” Caruso said. “We let them hang around and get a little momentum going down the stretch.”
Husson last led 63-60 on Jay Uhrin’s three-point play with 3:28 left, but GMC scored six unanswered points in a span of 1:14 to regain the lead. Rui Carmo (19 points, 17 rebounds, 4 steals) scored from the paint, Gerard Johnson (12 points, 15 rebounds) had a tip-in of a Carmo miss and Morgan hit an 18-footer to make it 66-63.
“Morgan was the difference in the game,” Caruso said. “He controlled the game off the dribble and got to the foul line in the critical situations.”
Husson tied it on a free throw and a short runner by Winterport’s Uhrin (15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), but Eddie Asieduo hit a 3-pointer with 39.2 seconds left to put the pressure back on the hosts.
“I’m happy as heck for him that he was able to step up and make that play,” Montana said.
Green Mountain, which outrebounded Husson 41-35, shot 47 percent (14-for-30) in the second half.
Josh Jones of Jefferson (22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) answered with a runner for Husson, but Green Mountain responded on two Carmo foul shots with 20.8 seconds left.
Jones missed both ends of a two-shot foul with 11.2 seconds left and Carmo made one of two from the line two seconds later to put the game away.
“We didn’t get the ball, often enough, where we wanted to and didn’t have success when we did,” Caruso said. “They just did a better job executing what they needed to than we did.”
Seniors Bradford of Kenduskeag, MacKenzie of Warren and Matt Cummings of Howland played their last game for Husson.