CASTLETON, Vt. – The Husson University Eagles won their third consecutive North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Women's Basketball Championship, defeating Maine Maritime Academy Mariners, 76-58, Saturday afternoon at Glenbrook Gym on the campus of Castleton University.
With the victory, Husson improves to 19-9 overall and earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. Maine Maritime falls to 20-8 with the loss.
There were four lead changes in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game, but Husson took the lead with six unanswered points, 10-6. A jumper by Sami Ireland later in the first quarter extended the Eagle lead to 16-12, but Maine Maritime cut it in half before the end of the quarter on a layup by Chloe Smedley.
Kenzie Worcester started the second quarter with a traditional three-point play, but the Mariners stayed within striking distance, eventually tying the game at 21-21 on a jumper by Caitlin Kane and a three-pointer by Megan McLean. The Eagles scored the next six points to reestablish their advantage at 27-21, but a three-pointer by Melinda Ogden and a layup from Eryn Doiron helped the Mariners close to within three, 29-26, at halftime.
Kane opened the second half with a three-pointer to tie the game, and then a traditional three-point play by Alayne Felix three minutes into the third quarter gave Maine Maritime a 34-33 advantage. Layups by Mikayla Charters and Felix extended the Mariner lead to 42-38, but the Eagles responded with an 11-3 scoring run over the final three minutes of the quarter, featuring three-pointers by Anna MacKenzie and Worcester, to take a 49-45 lead into the final quarter.
Husson started to pull away with an 11-2 run during a four-minute span in the fourth quarter, led by Ireland with six points. The Eagles closed out the contest by going 14-of-18 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, ending any chances of a Mariner comeback attempt.
Five players scored in double figures for the Eagles, led by Ireland with 21 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots. Worcester finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists, Joan Overman scored 11 points, MacKenzie contributed 10 points, six rebounds, and five assists, and Logan Huckins added 10 points off the bench.
Felix led Maine Maritime with 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals, while Doiron scored 11 points for the Mariners. As a team, Maine Maritime shot 30.3 percent (20-of-66) from the field, including 8-of-30 from behind the three-point line, and 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from the free throw line.
Husson shot 48.9 percent (22-of-45) from the field, including 4-of-10 from behind the three-point line, and 80 percent (28-of-35) from the free throw line. The Eagles scored 18 points off 17 Mariner turnovers and finished the game tied in rebounds with 37 apiece.
Worcester was named MVP of the tournament for the third straight season, becoming the first Eagle in program history to be name the Conference Tournament MVP three times and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Ireland and Jordan Butler, Felix and Charters from Maine Maritime, Castleton's Makayla Farrara, and Colby-Sawyer's Lexie Hamilton.
Husson will now wait for selection Monday at 2:30 p.m. to see who they will play in the 2018 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Tournament.
Worcester passed Chandler Guerrette (1,333 pts) for third on the all-time scoring list, scoring her 1,334th career point in career game #84, tying Sharon Siebert '93 for the second fastest player in program history to achieve this mark.