BY LEE HORTON, Assistant Sports Editor - Lewiston Sun Journal
The way the season started was a dreadful continuation of the last year.
The University of Southern Maine women’s basketball team lost and lost and lost four more times to start the 2017-18 season with a 0-6 record.
Last year, Chantel Eells’ freshman season, the Huskies struggled to a 5-21 record.
AdvertisementBut this season ended up being nothing like that, and Eells, a forward from Turner who was a two-sport standout at Leavitt Area High School, has been in the middle of USM’s resurgence.
“We’ve really pushed each other and realize that we didn’t want to have another season like we did last year,” Eells said.
After going 0-for-November, the Huskies finished out 2017 by going undefeated in five December games.
USM finished the regular season with a 13-12 overall record (9-5 in conference) and heads into the Little East Conference tournament, which opens Tuesday, as the No. 3 seed. The Huskies have achieved one of their goals by earning a home game to start the tournament.
“I think we’re hungry to do something,” USM coach Samantha Allen said.
After a slow start to the season, Eells is now third on the team in scoring at 9.2 points per game (second in conference play at 10.7 ppg). She also is the team’s top rebounder at 7.4 per game.
She has been on the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association’s weekly honor roll four times this season.
“She’s done very well for us. We’re excited that she is starting to grow into her position on the team,” Allen said.
This past Wednesday, Eells tied a career high with 18 points against UMass-Boston. She also pulled down 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season.
During an eight-game stretch from Jan. 10 to Feb. 3, Eells scored in double figures every game.
“I do believe that she just, honestly, got a little chip on her shoulder and just kind of went for it,” Allen said. “And it was good to see her not really holding back.”
During that stretch, the Huskies went 6-2.