BANGOR, Maine – Led by Tournament MVP Raheem Anderson with 33 points, the #1 seeded Husson Eagles took down #3 Thomas Terriers 89-67, capturing their sixth NAC Championship. The Eagles also claimed their 25th conference championship in program history with 12 under head coach Warren Caruso. The matchup between Husson (21-6, 17-2 NAC) and Thomas (15-13, 11-8 NAC) featured an equal display of skill and heart left on the court on Saturday afternoon in Newman Gymnasium.
Tipping off into the first five minutes, both teams struggled with early fouls and turnovers, before settling into a composed groove. With ten minutes left in the first half, the Eagles came from behind as they took off on a 11-0 run after a layup by Raheem Anderson giving Husson a 23-17 lead. Anderson took charge of the run, capturing eight of the Eagles' 11 points in under three minutes.
On the half, Anderson led all scorers with 15 points and four assists, while Zach Curran followed with seven points and five boards. Justin Smith showed speed on the court, seizing two steals to help his team finish out the half with a 35-34 lead over the Terriers.
Thomas was led by Jordan Derosby at the half, netting 11 points along with his four rebounds. Teammates, Tyheem Simon and Carlos Gonzalez split six points each. Both teams showed dominance under the hoop defensively as Thomas grabbed 18 total rebounds (16 defensive) to Husson's 19 rebounds (14 defensive).
With a slow start into the second half, the Eagles lost their lead until a combo play by Husson's Justin Smith and Justin Martin in the sixth minute helped reclaim the lead over Thomas, 45-44. Terriers' Gonzalez retaliated with a layup, quickly followed up by Eli Itkin draining a deep 3-pointer to start a 12-1 run for the Eagles over the next two and half minutes. Worcester contributed five points to the run, helping Husson capture a ten point lead, the largest score gap of the game so far, 57-47.
The Eagles continued to separate themselves from the Terriers in the final seven minutes of the game, as Worcester commanded the floor from behind the arc, crushing three 3-pointers to increase Husson's lead to a 20-point cushion with 3:42 left on the clock. There was no catching up for Thomas, as the Eagles seized back-to-back conference championship for the ninth time in program history with by a final score of 89-67.
On the game, Anderson broke 30 points for the eighth time this season with 33 points and eight assists, Worcester netted 24 points and six rebounds, Itkin added nine points and five rebounds. Both Zach Curran and Martin tallied up seven points apiece, along with Martin's eight rebounds. Overall, the Eagles shot an impressive 90.9% (20-of-22) from the charity stripe to the Terrier's 75.0% (15-of-20).
Thomas had multiple players record double-digit points, led by Simon with 15 points, followed by Derosby and Gonzalez netting 12 points respectively, while Ian King snatched up six rebounds.
2017 NAC All-Tournament Team
MVP – Raheem Anderson, Husson
Mitch Worcester, Husson
Alonzo McCain, Husson
Jordan Derosby, Thomas
Ian King, Thomas
Chad Copeland, Castleton
Raymond Monroe, Lyndon State
Husson will now wait for selection Monday at 12:30 p.m. to see who they will play in the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament.