GORHAM — Even though Rhode Island College had only five wins coming into its Little East Conference men’s basketball quarterfinal Tuesday night against the University of Southern Maine, Huskies Coach Karl Henrikson knew the Anchormen were better than that.

And they certainly proved it.

Malcolm Smith hit two late 3-pointers to cap a second-half comeback that led seventh-ranked Rhode Island College to a 64-63 upset of second-ranked USM at Fifield Court.

“I knew it would be a good ballgame,” said Henrikson. “I think the kids did, too. Their schedule is deceiving. They play a hard nonconference schedule, as we do. And they’ve had a lot of heartbreaking losses.

“When you get into a conference tournament, what you’ve done to prepare yourself with your schedule is what counts, not your record.”

The win lifted the Anchormen into the LEC semifinals with a 6-20 record. USM is 15-11 and hoping for an ECAC tournament berth, much like the one it got three years ago.

“This has been a great step up for the program,” said junior guard Zach Leal, who led the Huskies with 18 points. “Hopefully we can qualify for ECAC. It’s really modeled by how hard our seniors worked every single day in practice.”

USM started fast, scoring the first nine points. But RIC, which started with a man-to-man defense, switched to a zone that clogged things up for the Huskies. The Anchormen started hitting and led 37-31 at the half.

USM recovered, scoring the first eight points of the second half, taking the lead on a 3-pointer by Leal. The Huskies opened a 47-41 lead with 13:51 left when Jose Nouchanthavong hit a 3-pointer. Even as the Anchormen chipped away, the Huskies kept the lead until Smith stepped up.

It was 62-58 USM after a swooping layup by Nouchanthavong.

The Huskies had a chance to extend the lead but missed shots on two straight possessions – a harbinger of things to come; the Huskies would miss their final nine shots.

“We had some open looks that just didn’t fall,” said Leal. “It’s disappointing that one of our worst shooting performances came in the last game of the year.”

Then Smith – a 22-percent 3-point shooter in the regular season – hit one with 3:22 left to bring RIC within a point.

After another miss by the Huskies, Smith knocked down another 3 and the Anchormen led 64-62 with 2:30 remaining.

“I just felt that was in the rhythm of the game,” said Smith, who hit 3 of 6 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. “I knew my team needed a big shot so I just took my time and knocked it down.”

USM’s defense tightened. A foul shot by Atencio Martin (eight points, 10 rebounds) brought USM within 64-63 with eight seconds left. RIC’s Justin Campbell missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with six seconds left, Martin getting the rebound.

The Huskies called a timeout with 2.8 seconds left. The Anchormen smothered Nouchanthavong, who had 17 points (12 in the second half) and it was Martin who got the ball on the right wing. His 18-footer missed and the Anchormen celebrated.

But, Henrikson said, that didn’t decide the outcome.

“It never comes down realistically to a last shot of the game,” said Henrikson. “We had opportunities to close the door and missed a few layups.”

And while the Huskies lost, it didn’t take away from an exceptional season. The 15 wins matched their total from three years ago and this is just the third winning season in nine years.

“It’s been a really good season,” said Henrikson. “The kids played well, we won a lot of close games and they’re a close group.”