from the desk of Christina Cracolici - USM Assistant SID
GORHAM, ME – Sophomore Fenton Bradley, Jr. (Manfield, Conn./E.O. Smith) had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead three players in double-figures as the Western Connecticut State University Colonials used a strong second half effort to defeat the University of Southern Maine Huskies 65-56 in a Little East Conference men's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium.
With the win the Colonials earn their third consecutive victory to improve to 6-1 in the Little East, and 9-7 overall. Southern Maine drops to 2-15 overall and 1-6 in conference action.
Bradley, Jr. was 5-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free throw line for his team-high 15 points, earning the double-double with 11 rebounds to help WestConn to a 47-34 lead on the boards. Junior Tyler Rowe (East Hartford, Conn./Windsor/Taft) had 13 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while junior Eli Rodriguez (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Eastern) added 10 points and five rebounds.
Southern Maine senior Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) led all scorers with 18 points, adding five rebounds. Freshman DJ Anderson (Houston, Texas/Davis) added 16 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists. Junior Grayson Waterman (Berwick, Maine/Noble) came off of the bench for nine points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Led by nine first half points from McCue, Southern Maine held a slim 25-24 lead at the break. McCue was 3-for-6 from beyond-the-arc in the opening half as both teams struggled with offense in the first 20 minutes. USM shot 9-for-30 from the field (30.0 percent), while WestConn was 9-for-35 (25.7 percent). USM trailed WestConn, 23-19, with 3:08 to play in the half after a three from Rodriguez, but the Huskies responded with a 6-2 run to close the half.
The game remained nip-and-tuck for the first five minutes of the second half, and the score was tied 36-36 with 15:06 to play before WestConn asserted itself with a 17-3 run to snag a 53-29 lead with 10:12 remaining. Five different Colonials scored in the pivotal run, including five consecutive points from freshman Shea Tracy (New Britain, Conn.) to close the scoring surge.
The Huskies cut their deficit to single digits twice in the remaining 10 minutes of the game, and trailed by eight, 56-64, on back-to-back buckets in the paint from Anderson and Waterman, but Colonials were able to close the game out defensively for the win.
Western Connecticut travels to Eastern Connecticut on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.). Southern Maine returns to action on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) at UMass Boston.