BANGOR, Maine - Led by four-time tournament MVP Kenzie Worcester with 21 points, the #1 seeded Husson University Eagles (19-8) took down #2 Maine Maritime Academy (19-7), 58-51, capturing back-to-back-to-back-to-back North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championships on Saturday afternoon inside Newman Gym.
Husson becomes the first school in NAC history to win four straight women's basketball titles, while breaking the three-way tie with Castleton University and MMA for the most with their sixth. This victory also marks the first time in over 58 years that a Husson University basketball team won four or more conference championships. The men won seven in a row from 1956-61.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The two NAC finalists found themselves in a defensive struggle from the opening tip as Maine Maritime received early baskets from Melinda Ogden, Lauren Plissey, and a free throw from Plissey to race out to a 5-0 lead eight minutes and 14 seconds into the game. A made jump shot by Megan Peach put the Eagles on the board with 7:19 remaining in the first, but both teams would trade baskets back-and-forth the rest of the quarter as MMA held a three-point advantage after one, 11-8.
Worcester cut the MMA lead to one with a made jump shot two minutes and 34 seconds into the second before tying the game at 13-13 two minutes later with the Eagles first three of game. Husson closed out the first half on a 9-4 run thanks to Vanessa Duarte's three 3-pointers. The Eagles look a 22-17 lead into the intermission. Duarte led all scorers with nine points, while Alayne Felix record six points to lead the Mariners.
Worcester came out of the break hot for the Eagles as she pushed the lead to ten with 6:42 remaining in the third with a 3-pointer and a jumper. Felix cut the Eagle lead back to eight 13 seconds later, but that was the closest the Mariners could get as Husson took a 36-23 lead into the final quarter of the game.
Husson began the fourth with an old fashion 3-point play from Peach to put the pressure on the Mariners. They responded with a quick five-point swing of their own by Felix and Megan McLean to cut the Eagle lead to eight before Worcester made a huge 3-pointer to extend the lead back to 11 with 6:09 remaining. With 3:51 left in the game, Morgan Boudreau's jumper sparked a Mariner comeback attempt that cut the Eagle lead to a few buckets, but two charity stripe makes by Emma Alley in the closing minutes clinched the 58-51 victory for Husson.
- Worcester finished with a game-high 21 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
- Peach recorded her eighth double-double on the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while adding three assists and three blocks. With her three blocks on the afternoon Peach tied the program's single-season NCAA era blocked shot record, while becoming just the third Eagle in program history to record 60 or more blocks in a season and first in 12 years.
- Duarte had 14 points off the bench.
MAINE MARITIME LEADERS:
- Felix led her team with 13 points along with five rebounds and five assists.
- Plissey finished the game with eight rebounds paired with 11 points.
- McLean chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
- MVP – Kenzie Worcester, Husson
- Logan Huckins, Husson
- Megan Peach, Husson
- Megan McLean, Maine Maritime
- Alayne Felix, Maine Maritime
- Alisha Celley, Northern Vermont-Lyndon
- Anatanasia Chambers, SUNY Canton
Husson will now wait for the selection show on Monday at 2:30 p.m. to see who they will play in the 2019 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Tournament.