Central Maine Community College didn’t waste any time asserting itself in either half of its USCAA Division II semifinal against Berkeley College of New York.

Those strong starts assured the Mustangs a memorable finish to their season.

CMCC earned its first trip to the national championship game with a 56-48 win over No. 4 Berkeley Friday night in Uniontown, Pa.

Top-seeded CMCC (24-2) will meet No. 2 University of Cincinnati-Clermont (21-9) for the national title at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Susie French led the Mustangs with 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Laura Soohey added 12 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Milan Germany led Berkeley (16-6) with 20 points, 16 rebounds and six steals.

CMCC jumped out to a 9-0 lead on buckets by Soohey and Hannah Champagne and a 3-pointer by French. Berkeley missed its first nine shots before Patricia Patterson finally got it on the board with a 3-pointer 5:48 into the contest.

Gabby Foy’s 3-pointer gave the Mustangs their largest lead of the half at 24-13.

The Knights shot just 7-for-38 (18.4 percent) from the floor in the first half, but 14 Mustang turnovers helped keep them in the game. CMCC led 32-22 at halftime.

The Mustangs pulled away again with the first eight points of the second half, although it took them a little longer to heat up this time.

They missed their first four shots before Soohey converted a layup off a Foy steal. French and Foy followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 40-22 three minutes into the half.

French extended the lead to 19 with a layup before Berkeley started chipping away with a 16-4 run, capped by Aiyesha Brown’s layup that pulled the Knights to within 47-40 with 8:08 left.

That was as close as Berkeley would get until the final minute. French drilled her third 3 of the game and the Knights spun their wheels by missing 12 of their next 13 shots.

Berkeley shot just 20 percent from the floor for the game, including 1-for-15 from 3-point range. CMCC shot 31 percent from the field.

Foy had seven points and three steals for the Mustangs. Maggie McConkey added five points and four assists.

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