CMCC’s Brooke Reynolds is fouled by NHTI’s Camryn Burr during the first half of Thursday night’s women’s basketball game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — NHTI, Concord’s Community College, stayed with Central Maine Community College for 27 minutes Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Lynx, women’s college basketball games last 40 minutes.
The Mustangs converted on a trio of three-point plays late in the third quarter, then ran away in the fourth for a 67-46 victory in a Yankee Small College Conference clash at Kirk Hall.
“You need to be able to put 40 minutes against CMCC or you’re not going to be able to play with them,” NHTI coach Jen Fithian said.
The Lynx (3-1, 2-1 YSCC) hung with the taller, deeper Mustangs (7-1, 4-0) for much of the game, trailing by just one after one quarter and four at the half. The held a slim lead late in the second quarter until CMCC’s Cagney O’Brien hit a 3-pointer (her only points of the night) with 1:56 left.
“I think they’re a good team. I think they’re scrappy defensively,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said. “They don’t have a lot of height, but they work really hard.”
That NHTI defense held the Mustangs to just 29 percent shooting in the first half, including 17.6 percent in the second quarter.
“I thought we did a good job, at least the first half, we were focused on the post,” Fithian said. “Making sure we controlled that in our help-side. I thought we did a good job with that.”
CMCC’s three starting post players (Brooke and Jordyn Reynolds and Eraleena Gethers-Hairston) combined for just nine points in the first half. They finished the game with a combined 32.
“We finally realized we had a huge size advantage inside. We started feeding our post players. It was that simple,” Morong said. “I’m not sure why we struggled so much in the first half getting them the ball, but second half we made that a priority, then they had to start doubling, which freed up our shooters. We had some wide-open 3-point looks, and then it was a cat-and-mouse game for them. They had to pick one or the other. You can’t stop both of them.”
Natalie Thurber was the catalyst for CMCC’s key run, hitting back-to-back 3s 20 seconds apart to stretch a 37-34 lead to a 43-34 advantage.
“(At halftime) we told her ‘Natalie, we don’t care about missed shots, we don’t care about turnovers, we don’t care about your decision making. We just need Natalie to be Natalie. Go be Natalie. Just go out there and be Natalie.’ And she did that,” Morong said. “When she’s out there having fun and confident, I don’t know if there’s another player in the league that can score like she can from the perimeter.”
Thurber scored all 10 of her points in the second half.
Gethers-Hairston converted a traditional three-point play with 1:59 left in the third to stretch the Mustangs’ lead to double-digits, and it stayed that way for the remainder of the game.
“I think we just struggled with conditioning-wise,” Fithian said. “They just kept running. They didn’t stop.”
“As ugly as that first half was, it was a great finish,” Morong said.
Jordyn Reynolds led the Mustangs with 14 points and a program-record-tying 21 rebounds, equaling the mark set by CMCC assistant coach Laura Soohey. Alex Bessey and Gethers-Hairston added 12.
Michaela Biron paced the Lynx with 14 points, and Riselly Deoleo had 12 and 10 rebounds.
CMCC’s Jordyn Reynolds passes to her sister Brooke during the first half of Thursday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
CMCC’s Eraleena Gethers-Hairston, right, grabs a rebound over NHTI’s Bridget Lavin during Thursday night’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
CMCC’s Jane Lester, center, battles for a rebound against NHTI’s Michaela Biron, left and Lauren Bisson, right, during Thursday night’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)