GORHAM, Maine - Lilly Shlimon and Hailey Derosia combined to score 30 points as the Keene State College women's basketball team turned away a late University of Southern Maine comeback attempt for a key 48-45 Little East Conference win Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 6-14, 5-6 LEC
- Southern Maine: 9-11, 4-7 LEC
How It Happened
The Owls struggled offensively over the opening 12 minutes of the game and trailed by as many as nine (13-4), but came alive after that to snatch a halftime lead and eventually led by eight with just under five minutes to go in regulation before holding on for a win that moved them one game above USM for the sixth and final playoff spot in the conference. The two teams split the regular season series, with KSC's victory today denying the Huskies a chance to clinch a tiebreaker. Lilly Shlimon made 6-of-10 shots overall, including 3-of-5 from three, to score a team-leading 16 points for Keene State. She added three rebounds and one steal. Hailey Derosia contributed 14 points (4-9 FG, 6-6 FT), seven rebounds and a steal. Abby Grandmaison had eight points (2-4 FG, 3-3 FT), five rebounds and two steals. Victoria Harris scored 14 points for Southern Maine, who lost for the fifth time in the past seven games.
Although the Huskies also could not find much offense in the early-going either, Harris scored six of her 14 points in the opening quarter as USM led 8-4, which later became a nine-point edge just over two minutes into the second quarter following a three by Megan King and a basket by Mary Toman. Trailing 13-4, KSC finally came to life, as Shlimon canned a triple on back-to-back possessions to make it 15-10, and later two free throws by Grandmaison had the Owls back within three with 3:30 left in the half. Her three-point play a little less than two minutes later made it a one-point game. After USM pushed their lead back to four (22-18) with 54 seconds to go, KSC closed the half on a 6-0 burst to lead 24-22 behind four points from Derosia and two from Leah Pelkey.
The opening seven minutes of the second half were not much different, as the teams combined to score just 10 points and wound up even at 28 after a free throw by USM's Abi Ramirez at the 4:57 mark. However, KSC took control of the game shortly thereafter, as a three by Grandmaison kicked off a quick 7-0 Owl run that finished with two free throws by Derosia and a layup by Shlimon, making it 35-28 with 2:37 left in the third quarter. The surge, which took only a little over one minute, ended up giving Keene State the lead for good. Two free throws by Jenny Freedman in the final 2:06 helped the Owls maintain a seven-point edge (37-30) through three.
Shlimon came up big in the final 10 minutes, as she made all three of her field goal attempts, including making her only long-range try, to ensure Keene State came out on top. She scored on KSC's first possession to make it 39-32 and, after the Owls did not score for almost five minutes, buried a three for an eight-point cushion (42-34) with 4:46 left. A jumper by Shlimon and a layup by Hien Thach kept Keene State on top by that same margin, 46-38, with less than two minutes to go, but Southern Maine gave themselves a chance with a late push. Two free throws by Jackie Luckhardt and a three by Morgan Eliasen following an Owl turnover quickly brought the Huskies back within one possession with still 1:03 to go and, after a steal and layup by Luckhardt, USM was within 46-45 with 33 seconds to play. KSC committed a third turnover in the final 1:24 to give Southern Maine a chance to go ahead, but Luckhardt's off-balance jumper in the final seconds was off the mark, and Derosia sank two free throws after being fouled with 0.7 seconds left. The Huskies called a timeout and advanced the ball for one more chance, but Kristen Curley's desperation three was well short.
Inside the Paint
- Both teams were cold from the floor, shooting 29 percent. KSC made 15-of-52 overall and Southern Maine 14-of-49, but the Owls made 14-of-19 at the foul line (74%) and USM 15-of-26 (58%).
- Shlimon and Grandmaison helped KSC's bench outscore their counterparts 28-19.
- As mentioned, the win moved the Owls one game ahead of Southern Maine with five left to play for the sixth and final playoff spot. KSC is a game and a half behind fifth-place UMass-Dartmouth.
- Keene State returns home to host Plymouth State University (4-15, 0-10 LEC) on Wednesday, February 5 for Red & White Faculty/Staff/Alumni Night sponsored by the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Tip-off is at 5:30 pm.
- Southern Maine travels to Rhode Island College (16-4, 8-3 LEC) on the same night.