Southern Maine Community College men’s basketball coach Matt Richards lifts the trophy after the SeaWolves won the USCAA Division II Small College National Championship on Thursday.

When Matt Richards was hired by Southern Maine Community College to be its men’s basketball coach, he said his goal was to “create a special place,” where student-athletes would get a good education at low cost and still attain “lifetime memorable experiences” through athletics.

On Thursday, SMCC earned the 76-year-old school’s first national title, winning the United States Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II championship with a 79-75 victory against Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte in Richmond, Virginia.

“I was fortunate to be hired 19 years ago and I wanted to create a special place, and I guess this is kind of the pinnacle of that,” Richards said. “I feel really fortunate to work at an institution that creates such a positive experience for student-athletes.”

It was SMCC’s 11th trip to the USCAA national tournament in 19 seasons under Richards, a Scarborough native who is also the athletic director. In both 2007 and 2008, SMCC reached the semifinals.

Richards said when he checked his phone after Thursday’s win, he had 248 congratulatory text messages, many from former players.

“It was insane to see that. At a quarter to one in the morning, I finally responded to the last text message,” Richards said.


Central Maine Community College (27-3) won the women’s Division II championship for the third time in five years, beating Penn State Schuylkill, 63-35.

The USCAA is an affiliation option for a variety of small colleges. For most, it is an alternative to both the NCAA and the NAIA. Some, like SMCC, offer associate degrees. Others are four-year colleges.

SMCC, which includes eight players from Maine, finished with a 21-5 record. The SeaWolves also won the Yankee Small College Conference championship for the fourth time under Richards.

“Coach Richards, he hit us with a question: Do we want to come here to Virginia and just be satisified? Or, do we want to come here and handle business?” said junior forward DeSean Cromwell of Biddeford in a phone interview Friday as the team bus was returning to South Portland. “All 14 of us wanted to handle our business. We were in Virginia for a reason, to win a championship and to make history and bring it back home.”

Cromwell said he will finish his associate’s degree in business this year and plans to return to SMCC for a fourth year of athletic eligibility and complete a second associate’s degree in HVAC.

SMCC’s 2020-21 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Cromwell, who averaged 10.2 points a game this season, said he and several teammates spent the lost season working out individually and in small groups.

“Honestly, I felt like that was a lot of the difference this year,” Cromwell said. ‘The five, six returners, we weren’t at home chilling, we were in the gym for that extra year. This didn’t just start in October. This started in 2020. It was a whole process and it was just amazing.”

“We always talked about how we lost a year together and we wanted to make a statement and win it all,” said Ian Regan, a 6-2 junior guard from Old Orchard Beach. Regan led the SeaWolves in scoring, averaging 15.4 points to go with 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He will complete his studies this year with associate degrees in both education and business.

“I love the culture of SMCC,” said Regan, who has earned all-academic honors. “It’s a family atmosphere. The coaches made me feel welcome. My professors made me feel welcome.”

Sophomore 6-foot-4 center Cameron Cousins of Wells agreed.

“It was awesome to win it with these guys because we’ve put in so much work together the last couple of years with COVID,” said Cousins, who has already finished his electrical degree and is taking business classes.


Cousins was the YSCC Player of the Year and a first-team USCAA All-American who averaged 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds this season.

“I never expected any of that,” Cousins said of the individual accolades. “It’s all because of the team. I wouldn’t be what I am without any of the guys on this team.”

SMCC, the fifth seed in the 10-team tournament, beat No. 4 Miami (Ohio) University-Hamilton, 71-57, in the quarterfinals. Cousins scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Zach Mickle of Billerica, Massachusetts, added 16 points with four 3-pointers. Cromwell (15 points) and Regan (11) also reached double figures. Freshman Jack Pyzynski of Saco (Thornton Academy) had 10 assists and held first-team All-American Ryan Marchall to four points.

In a 61-44 semifinal win against Penn State Mont Alto, Mickle, who averaged 13.8 points and a team-high 3.9 assists, went off for 27 points with six 3-pointers. Cousins scored 13 points with nine rebounds. Regan struggled with his shot (six points) but grabbed 11 rebounds. Pyzynski held USCAA Division II Player of the Year Quintyn Flemister scoreless.

Mickle scored 20 points in the championship game and was named the tournament MVP. Mickle said he was happy his “best friend” Cousins had been named to the All-America list, and that another “best friend,” Regan, was named an honorable mention All-American, but he felt was snubbed. Both Miami-Hamilton and Penn State Mont Alto had a third player selected.

“I had a chip on my shoulder to prove they got something wrong and to give my team the best shot possible to win, and it ended up working out,” Mickle said.

Anderson Kavutse, a 6-8 senior from Westbrook, was another key tournament contributor, coming off the bench to score nine points in the semifinal and posting a 12-point, 10-rebound game in the final.

The SMCC women’s basketball team, with nine Maine residents on its roster, also competed in the USCAA national tournament. The SeaWolves their first game and won a consolation game to finish with a record of 21-5.

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