One, final brilliant performance by one of the greatest players ever to wear the University of Southern Maine uniform wasn’t quite enough to save the Huskies.

Calvin College of Grand Rapids, Mich., held Southern Maine to one basket in the final 2:49 and overcame Ashley Marble’s 32 points to handle the Huskies, 60-56, in an NCAA Division III women’s basketball Sweet 16 showdown Friday at Jean Yawkey Center in Boston.

Brook VanEck led Calvin (28-2) with 14 points off the bench. Lisa Winkle added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Knights. Nikki Zimmerman coupled 12 points with five assists.

Out-of-towners will meet in the sectional final tonight when Calvin confronts Indiana’s DePauw University. DePauw routed host Emmanuel, 74-50, in Friday’s nightcap.

Southern Maine concluded an injury-riddled campaign at 27-3 after advancing to the third round of the NCAA tourney for the 18th time in the last 23 years.

Marble was the only player among last year’s top six to play wire-to-wire for Southern Maine after three graduations and two serious knee injuries took away the others. She capped her career as the Huskies’ all-time leader in rebounds, free throws made and free throws attempted and as the school’s second-most prolific scorer.

Originally recruited to the University of Maine on a Division I volleyball scholarship, Marble wound up with 1,981 points and 1,157 rebounds.

The 5-foot-9 forward from Topsfield went 12-of-24 from the field in her final game, scoring 17 points in the first half to single-handedly keep Southern Maine in contention. Calvin led 33-24 at the break.

USM rallied to take a four-point lead with under nine minutes remaining.

Marble erupted for eight points and Angela Santa Fe six in a surge that tied the game at 40. Santa Fe and Marble again scored back-to-back buckets to fashion a 48-44 lead with 8:57 to go.

Marissa Walker steadied the Knights with a 3-pointer, and VanEck’s lay-in put Calvin on top, 49-48, with 6:07 showing.

Two free throws by Marble leveled the score at 54 with 2:49 left in regulation. Rachel Willett responded with a deuce at the two-minute mark to restore the Knights’ cushion for keeps..

Another Marble hoop halved the deficit to 58-56 with 1:20 on the clock, and the Huskies’ couldn’t capitalize on Calvin’s two missed free throws in the waning moments.

Southern Maine sank 7-of-16 from 3-point distance. Santa Fe and Stacey Kent each scored eight points. Dawn Ross of Gray chipped in six.

The Huskies finished third in the nation in 2005. They were runner-up last March, losing to another Michigan school, Hope College, in the title game.

USM lost only nine games during the career of Marble, Katie Sibley, Lauren Samuelson and Meg Patti. Among their 119 victories: Fourteen NCAA tourney triumphs and four consecutive Little East Conference championships.

Co-captains Sibley and Shannon Kynoch suffered season-spoiling knee injuries. Kynoch retained a full year of eligibility and will return. Sibley’s injury came later in the year, and she was forced to play out the string while wearing a bulky brace.

Sibley contributed one assist and one steal in a six-minute farewell against Calvin.


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