|University of Southern Maine||Saint Joseph's College|
GORHAM, Maine – Senior Zach Leal (York, Maine) scored a game-high 23 points to lead three players in double figures as the University of Southern Maine Huskies narrowly defeated the St. Joseph’s College Monks 74-72 in a non-conference men’s basketball game Sunday night at Hill Gymnasium’s Fifield Court.
With the win Southern Maine reclaims the Costello Cup, which is presented annually to the winner of the contest between the two neighbor schools. It is the 12th time in the 28-season history of the Cup that Southern Maine has won and the first time since the 2014-2015 season. The Costello Cup is named in honor of the late Dr. Richard “Doc” Costello, former USM Athletic Director and basketball coach.
Leal was 6-for-12 from the field and 11-for-13 from the free throw line to lead Southern Maine. He added three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Senior James Starks III (Miami, Fla./Miami Killian Senior) snagged his third double-double of the season with 17 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, including four offensive boards. Senior Jacob Littlefield (Mechanic Falls, Maine/Poland) tossed in 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting, adding six rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore Darian Berry (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding) led SJC with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting, while classmate Ian Mileikis (Auburn, Maine/Edward Little) added 14 points and four assists. Sophomore Marc Corey (Londonderry, N.H.) was the third SJC player in double-figures with 13 points. Juniors Quinn Richardson-Newton (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) and Aaron Hall (Haverhill, Mass./Central Catholic) each had 10 rebounds.
Leading the entire game, and clinging to a 37-33 lead at the break, Southern Maine could not pull away from the Monks to start the second half, but led 50-46 with 13:17 on the clock after a traditional three-point play from Leal. After Leal’s hoop and the harm, the Monks scored five unanswered points to grab their first lead of the game 51-50 with 12:20 to play. Sophomore Ben Malloy (Standish, Maine/Bonny Eagle) canned a three, and Richardson-Newton sank his only basket of the game to put the Monks ahead, sending the game into a back-and-forth battle.
Over the next eight minutes the lead exchanged hands 10 times. A jumper from Mileikis put St. Joseph’s ahead of the Huskies 65-64 with 4:34 to play before USM scored six unanswered points to go ahead 70-65 with 2:00 on the clock. Starks, Littlefield and Leal were each responsible for a basket in the run.
In a two-possession game, Mileikis drained a three, making it 70-68 with 1:38 to go, but Huskies’ junior Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) answered right back with a buzzer-beating three on Southern Maine’s next possession to keep it a five-point game, 73-68 with 1:10 left. SJC continued to battle and trimmed the lead to two, 74-72 with 14 seconds left on a layup from Mileikis. With the Huskies holding possession, the game seemed in hand for USM, but a turnover with 10 seconds to play gave the Monks one last look at the basket, but Starks was able to clear the defensive board to hold on for the win.