SOUTH PORTLAND—The Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team hadn’t been tested for a full 40 minutes in a victory this season.

Until Wednesday.

Something had to give when the Mustangs traveled to longtime rival Southern Maine Community College. That’s because both squads were sporting perfect conference records as they did battle for the first of two (perhaps three) times this season.

The Mustangs got the early jump, fended off the expected Seawolves’ second half rally and went on to a 80-64 victory, improving to 12-1 on the season, 8-0 in Yankee Small College Conference play and most importantly, earned bragging rights and an extra dose of confidence in their penultimate game of the first semester.

CMCC put four players in double figures, made key shots when it needed to and created plenty of offense off of its defense and on second chance points off the glass.

“This is the first time in awhile we’ve faced adversity,” Mustangs coach Andrew Morong said. “Credit to SMCC. They came at us. I loved how the girls responded.”


CMCC trailed just twice, 4-3 and 17-16, and set the tone with an opportunistic defense. In the first 20 minutes, the Mustangs forced 16 turnovers.

They gradually opened up a lead behind the 3-point shooting of Gabby Foy (a Mt. Blue High School graduated) and steady all-around play from Susie French.

A layup from Laura Soohey, a long 3-pointer from Lexi Larson, a pullup 3 from Larson, a Larson steal and layup and an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) from Jaime Swart (a Lewiston High School graduate) spelled a 13-4 run to end the half and a 36-26 advantage.

When French drove for a pair of layups and Foy knocked down a 3, the lead was 15, 43-28, just 1 minute, 45 seconds into the second half. Two French foul shots, a bank shot from Maggie McConkey and a layup after a steal from Jasmine Ramos made it 53-36. After a Seawolves’ free throw, McConkey converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 56-37.

SMCC would go on a run and drew as close as 60-51, but a McConkey layup off a long inbounds pass and a 3 from Samantha Bruce restored order. After the Seawolves made it 65-55, Foy hit a final 3 and Soohey made a layup for a 70-55 lead. The hosts never got closer than 12 from there and CMCC went on to the 80-64 triumph.

“It feels really good,” said French, who led all scorers with 18 points. “We take everyone seriously, but this is one game we really wanted. It’s such a good, friendly rivalry. They’re the best team we’ve faced. We learned we can grind it out. It’s the first time we’ve had to grind out two halves in a hostile environment. We stayed composed, especially with a lot of freshmen. We didn’t get rattled.”


In addition to French’s 18, Foy had 16 points (12 of which came on 3s), Soohey 15 and McConkey 13. Larson had eight off the bench. CMCC wound up with a 47-40 rebounding advantage (including 16 on the offensive glass) and forced 28 turnovers.

“It didn’t matter who was in the game, they made a positive impact,” Morong said.

SMCC (8-3 overall, 6-1 in conference) got 15 points apiece from Maria Veino and former Mustang Danielle McCusker.

CMCC wraps up its first semester at Eastern Maine CC Friday and knows that it can still improve.

“We have to focus on the little things,” French said. “Our goal is to go all the way, but we still have a long way to go.”

“I’m very pleased, but not satisfied,” Morong said. “This gives us momentum going into the second semester. We have nine freshmen and we need our freshmen not to be freshmen anymore. I can only imagine where we’ll be (at the end of the season).”

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