|University of Southern Maine||University of New England|
GORHAM, Maine – Senior Zach Leal (York, Maine) scored a game-high 25 points and senior James Starks III (Miami, Fla./Miami Killian Senior) added a monster double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds to lead the University of Southern Maine Huskies to a season-opening 76-67 win over the University of New England Noreasters Tuesday night on Fifield Court.
Southern Maine begins its season at 1-0, while UNE stands at 0-1with the loss.
Leal was 9-for-16 from the floor, adding five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a blocked shot. Starks was 9-for-15 from the floor, scoring his first basket in a Husky uniform with an emphatic dunk, adding 16 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot. Senior Jacob Littlefield (Mechanic Falls, Maine/Poland) added nine points and seven rebounds, while classmate Jalen Lincoln (Nobleboro, Maine/Lincoln Academy) added eight points and two blocked shots.
Senior Jean-Luc Park (Georgetown, Texas) led UNE with 16 points and three assists, while junior Gavin Dibble (Greenport, N.Y.) tossed in 12 points off of the bench on a 4-for-4 night that included two three-pointers. Junior Drew Coveney (Londonderry, N.H.) added 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
Tied at 28 with 6:27 to play in the first half, Southern Maine outscored UNE 11-5 before the break to assume a 39-33 lead. Starks scored six of his 21 points in the run. UNE hung around the Huskies in the second half and never trailed by more than two possessions. Trailing USM by five, 61-56 with 8:07 on the clock after a basket from Leal, UNE outscored USM 7-2 to tie the game at 63 with 4:54 to go. Four different Noreasters scored in the run, which was capped by a three from Dibble.
Both teams traded baskets and the score remained tied at 65 with 3:52 to go before the Huskies rattled off a 7-0 spurt. Starks and Leal each scored tough baskets in the paint, while Littlefield knocked down three free throws to give the Huskies some breathing room and a 72-65 lead. From there, USM closed the game out on the line for the 76-67 final.
Southern Maine returns to action on Friday (6:00 p.m.) at Wesleyan (Conn.) in the Herb Kenney Tip-Off. UNE travels to Thomas College on Friday (5:00 p.m.) in the Charlie Ryan Classic.