SALEM, Mass. – Junior forward Nash Biliew (Portland, Maine) scored a game-high and career-high 19 points to lead the No. 16 University of Southern Maine Huskies to a 76-53 win over the Dominican University Stars in the third game of the Salem State Holiday Classic Sunday afternoon at the O'Keefe Center in Salem, Mass.
With the win, Southern Maine remains undefeated and improves its record to 11-0. The Stars are still in search of their first win of the season and fall to 0-12. In the third game in the series, and first since the 1982 season, between the two schools all-time, Southern Maine now has a 3-0 record against the Stars.
Biliew was 8-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line en route to her game-high 19 points. Junior guard Erin McNamara (West Newbury, Mass./Pentucket Regional) added a career-high 17 points on an outstanding 7-for-11 effort from the field, including a 3-for-4 mark from three-point range. Biliew, who was named to the All-Tournament team, and McNamara were the only two Huskies in double figures as 10 players scored at least two points for the Huskies.
Senior forward Laura Knieps (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) led the Stars with 18 points on a 7-for-11 effort from the field. Junior guard Katie Budz (Orland Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) added 1 points and seven assists.
Despite the lopsided final, the feisty Stars were surprisingly game for the challenge and trailed the Huskies by just five points 47-42 midway through the second half. Behind five first half three-pointers, Dominican trailed USM 35-32 at the half, led by 11 first half points from Knieps, including a 3-for-4 mark from three-point territory.
The Huskies struck first in the second half, as Biliew scored the basket and got the hard for a traditional three-point play to give USM a modest 38-32 lead before Knieps converted a layup to pull her team to within four, 38-34, with 18:44 to play and to set the tone of play for the next seven minutes. Although the Huskies never trailed the Stars in the second, they were unable to gain more than an eight-point edge as both teams exchanged baskets. Four consecutive points from USM senior forward Jordan Grant (Concord, N.H.) gave the Huskies a 42-34 lead with 16:26 to play, but Knieps continued to carry her team with four straight points of her own for a 42-38 USM lead with 14:24 on the clock.
After five points from McNamara on a three and a driving layup to bookend a layup from Budz, USM led by seven, 47-40, before the Stars again made it a two-possession game, 47-42 following a jumper from freshman Allie Tapanes (Winfield, Ill./West Chicago). However, it was as close as the Stars would get as the Huskies tore off an 18-1 run over the next five and a half minutes to grab a 65-43 lead with 6:01 to play and sew up the victory.
McNamara kick started the run with a three as five different players contributed to the decisive run, including six points from senior forward Meredith Reid (York, Maine). The Huskies had things working on both ends of the floor during that stretch forcing the Stars to commit nine of their 27 turnovers while limiting them to a 0-for-5 effort from the field. Dominican never got closer than 17 points the rest of the way as the Huskies closed out the game.
The Huskies finished the game shooting 45.0 percent (27-for-60) from the field and 89.5 percent from the free throw line (17-for-19). The Huskies scored 31 of their 75 points off of Dominican turnovers and outscored the Stars' bench 26-10. Dominican shot 44.4 percent (20-for-45) from the floor.
Southern Maine hosts University of New England on Wednesday (5:30 p.m.). Dominican travels to Lakeland College on Saturday (2:00 p.m.).
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