Asked for an assessment of how his Southern Maine Community College men’s basketball team is doing, Coach Matt Richards replied, “We’re doing OK.”

The Seawolves are doing a little better than “OK.”

As SMCC returns from its two-week holiday break, the 12-2 Seawolves are ranked third in the nation among the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II men’s teams. That’s third … in … the … nation.

“Well,” said Richards, “we’re got a group of guys who are buying into what we want to do pretty well and working hard.”

SMCC was ranked first in the initial USCAA poll, but then lost to third-ranked Central Penn College, 93-92, in OT. Central Penn is now ranked second.

The Seawolves thought they had won the game when Atencio Martin of Kittery scored with 4.8 seconds remaining in overtime for a 92-91 lead. But Central Penn’s Dominique Twiggs scored at the buzzer to win it for the Knights.

“That was a good barometer for us,” said Richards, in his 12th year as head coach of the Seawolves. “Central Penn was one of the best small college teams I’ve seen in a while. They just happened to have the ball last.

“But I feel pretty good where we’re at. I feel we can compete at the national level and I think we showed that.”

Richards said there is no magic formula for his team’s success. They have no stars. They’re not flashy. What they do is rebound and play defense.

They average 81.7 points a game while only giving up 67.1. They out-rebound their opponents by an average of 11.4.

“We make it hard for teams to score,” said Richards. “We contest shots, we don’t let them get good looks.”

Maybe that’s not surprising. Martin, who played at Traip Academy, said SMCC spent the first week of practice concentrating solely on defense.

“We started 3-on-3, then 4-on-4, then 5-on-5 and then put the offense in just before the games (started),” said Martin. “Once you get the defense down, if you can get people not to score, then the scoring part comes easy.”

Richards said he changed his practice routine after the Seawolves faltered late last season.

“We weren’t playing our best ball in February,” he said. “We played our best ball in January. So I took a look at everything we did, and sort of reinvented what we do.”

Martin, who is studying journalism, is the only SMCC player to score in double figures, averaging 15.1 points. The 6-foot-3 forward was the sixth man last year but, said Richards, “has blossomed this year. He took what he learned last year, stayed on campus over the summer and is now more of a finished product.”

He provides the Seawolves with a difficult match-up for many teams. If an opposing team puts a taller player on Martin, he simply steps outside and hits the 3-pointer. If they put a guard on him, he goes inside and becomes a post player.

SMCC is also getting good play from its two big players inside – 6-7 freshman forward Carlos Gonzalez of Lewiston and 6-6 freshman center Jack Tolan of South Portland. Gonzalez is averaging 7.8 points and 6.8 rebounds while Tolan is averaging 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Jordan DeRosby of Waterville is also playing well, averaging 5.8 points and 2.9 assists.

Martin said the Seawolves need to remain focused on the task ahead, not what they’ve accomplished so far.

“I think we have to continue doing the little things that got us here,” he said. “We became a good team because we do certain things on the court, rebound, don’t turn the ball over, close out. If we stop doing those things, we won’t be the team that we want to be.”

FIELD HOCKEY

Bowdoin College junior forward Rachel Kennedy of Trumbull, Connecticut, was recently named the ECAC New England Player of the Year. Kennedy, who scored 32 goals, was also a first-team Division III All-America selection by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. Teammate defender Colleen Finnerty of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, was a third-team All-America selection.

 Endicott College senior forward Emily Sawchuck of Cumberland (Cheverus) was named to the first team of the NFHCA Division III All-American team. She is the first player from Endicott to be so honored. She had a career-high 21 goals and 10 assists as a senior and was the Commonwealth Coast Conference Offensive player of the year. She finished her career with 63 goals and 27 assists in 80 games.

University of New England senior defender Beth Sullivan was named to the NFHCA Div. III All-American third team.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

Bentley University forward Tyler McFarland of Rockport (Camden Hills) was recently named the Northeast-10 Conference player of the week. He averaged 24 points, six rebounds, two blocks and one assist in two wins. He hit a career-high seven 3-pointers in a 74-63 win over New Haven.

 Husson University freshman forward Matt Talbot of Portland was recently named North Atlantic Conference rookie of the week. He is averaging 7.8 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Eagles.

VOLLEYBALL

University of Southern Maine freshman outside hitter Jessica Williamson of Goffstown, New Hampshire, was named the ECAC Division III New England Rookie of the Year, as well as a member of the all-star second team. Williamson set five school records, including 496 kills, as the Huskies earned their first postseason berth.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Freshman center/forward Tiana-Jo Carter of Naples (Lake Region) is averaging 8.3 points and 6.5 rebounds for 7-5 University of Albany. Carter, who has started nine games and is averaging 25.5 minutes, also has 10 steals, a team-high nine blocks and four assists. She has led Albany in rebounding twice. The Great Danes play at the University of Maine at noon on Saturday.

 Freshman guard Allie Clement of Falmouth (McAuley) is averaging 5.6 points and 1.5 rebounds for the 6-5 Red Foxes of Marist College. She has started four games, averaging 14.2 minutes, and also has seven assists and five steals.

 Sophomore forward Kristen Ross of Gorham has started eight games for 2-11 Binghamton University. She is averaging 2.6 minutes, 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds. She also has 11 steals, eight assists and four blocks. Sophomore guard Kylie Libby of South Portland (Cheverus) has started six games for the Bearcats and is averaging 19.2 minutes, 3.9 rebounds and just under one point. She also has eight assists, three steals and two blocks.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

Bowdoin junior goalkeeper Bridget McCarthy of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, was named to the Division III All-American second team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. It is the first time a Polar Bears keeper has achieved that honor. McCarthy allowed just eight goals and had a 0.53 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING

Sophomore Lindsey Thomsen of Gorham was named the UNE athlete of the month for November after winning seven individual events in four meets, including setting a team and home pool record (32.35 seconds) in the 50-yard backstroke on Nov. 8.