AUBURN — Long before the cold weather arrives, the Central Maine Community College Mustangs are finding a way to make snowballs.

It starts with relentless pressure, which usually allows the Mustangs to open big leads early. The leads get bigger as their deep bench keeps the pressure, and the snowball, rolling. By the end of the night, an exhausted opponent feels like they’ve been overrun by an avalanche.

CMCC roared out to a 21-3 lead and never looked back to rout NHTI, 78-38, in a lopsided YSCAA women’s basketball game at Kirk Hall Thursday night.

Brooke Reynolds led a balanced scoring attack for the unbeaten Mustangs (8-0, 4-0 YSCAA) with 18 points and nine rebounds. Tianna Harriman had 13 points six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Nicole Hamblin and Jane Lester added nine points apiece.

“Our press gets us going,” Harriman said. “It’s mostly our length up front. We get a lot of deflections.”

“And then we have the quickness in the back, and the eyes in the back,” added Hamblin. “When they communicate to us and let us know, when we see them get the deflections, we have the quickness to come and get it and pass it (for points).”


CMCC’s full-court pressure helped force 21 first-half turnovers which led to 25 points. The Mustangs also controlled the paint, outscoring the Lynx 26-10 and outrebounding them, 25-15.

The Mustangs pulled away quickly with a 17-0 first quarter run, sparked by inside hoops from Taylor Esty and Jane Lester, to take a 21-3 lead. The Lynx went scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes as CMCC built a 23-8 lead after the first quarter.

“That’s the plan. We want to obviously get off to a hot start,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said. “But the other part of the press that people don’t see is how it wears the other team down over 40 minutes. And tonight we were able to use two of our presses, which is great to get that experience. But our halfcourt man-to-man is of value because we wouldn’t be able to press if we didn’t have a strong foundation behind us.”

Reynolds cranked up a 19-0 second quarter run with a pair of layups. Harriman added a 3-pointer and Hamblin and Holly Decourcey converted Lynx turnovers into layups and once again the Lynx went more than six minutes without a field goal as the Mustangs extended the lead to 46-17 at halftime.

The second half started with more of the same as Harriman and Hamblin set up Reynolds nicely for a layup, then Harriman made a steal and found Hamblin for two.

“We definitely feel like we have a connection,” Hamblin said of adapting to newcomers Harriman and Reynolds. “When you feel it, you feel it. I don’t know how to explain it.”


“I think our team clicked all together really well,” Harriman said.

The Mustangs will face their toughest job of the season Friday and Saturday playing against Bowdoin and Bates in the Graef Memorial Classic,

“It’s a testament to the quality of program we have here that teams like Bates and Bowdoin want to play us,” Morong said. “I think our girls are ready. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing UConn or the Celtics, we walk into every gym we play in expecting to win. So we’re going for it, and we know we have nothing to lose.”

Hayley Jakubens led the Lynx (4-2, 2-2) with nine points and seven rebounds.

NHTI 87, CMCC 70

AUBURN — Central Maine Community College coach Dave Gonyea had a bad feeling at halftime.


His Mustangs came out flat for Thursday night’s YSCAA matchup with NHTI. The scoreboard didn’t reflect it, because the visitors were having their own problems in the first half, but that didn’t ease Gonyea’s discomfort.

NHTI snapped out of its funk in the second half. CMCC did not, and behind a dominating performance from forward Dante Ramos, the Lynx took control with a 19-8 run early and cruised to an 87-70 win at Kirk Hall.

Ramos finished with a game-high 30 points and 13 rebounds for the Lynx (4-2, 3-1 YSCCC). Zach Pope and Michael DeJesus complemented his play in the paint from the perimeter with 15 points apiece.

Pietro Badalassi led the Mustangs (6-2, 2-1) with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Kionno Nelson and Kaleb Benjamin chipped in with nine points apiece.

NHTI shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half and built the game-changing run off a CMCC shooting drought that lasted nearly five minutes.

“I knew we were in trouble at halftime because usually we’re not that flat going in,” Gonyea said. “We really didn’t shoot the ball well at all. We had no flow.”


After Badalassi fed Rob Skinner for a layup that pulled the Mustangs even at 40-40, Joe Simpson beat the shot clock buzzer with a 3-pointer and  Pope followed with a 3 of his own to make it 46-40.

Cam Duncan cut the deficit in half with a 3-pointer, but that would be the Mustangs’ last field goal for the next 4:41.  Central Maine kept the visitors from pulling away until Ramos scored inside, then fed DeJesus for back-to-back hoops to send NHTI’s lead into double digits for the first time at 59-48 with 12 minutes remaining.

“It seemed like they beat us to a lot of loose balls and if there was a break, it wen their way,” Gonyea said. “It was just a flat night. Our full-court pressure wasn’t what it normally is. We weren’t rotating the correct way and it seemed like we were two steps behind most of the game.”

Central Maine briefly pulled back to within seven before a pair of Ramos dunks sandwiched around DeJesus’ steal and layup ballooned the margin to 18 and put the game out of reach.

“He’s very athletic and he’s very fast,” NHTI coach Paul Hogan said of the 6-foot-4 Ramos. “He just has a feel for things you can’t teach. When he’s on the same page with the stuff we’re trying to do, he can be a good player.”

Back-to-back 3s by Benjamin helped the Mustangs race out to an 8-0 lead. The Lynx answered with the next seven points, however, and eventually took the lead midway through the first half on a 7-0 run that was all Ramos.

Overaggressive defense by CMCC put NHTI into the bonus less than seven minutes into the game. The Lynx took advantage, going to the charity stripe 23 times (13-for-23), compared to five free throws for the Mustangs.

Cornelius Lawhorn’s jumper pulled the Mustangs back even at 20-20, but Michael DeJesus drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to spark an 8-0 Lynx run which helped them carry a 33-29 lead into halftime.

NHTI shot 28.6 percent from the floor in the first half, while CMCC shot 25.6535 percent. The Mustangs finished at 32. 5 percent for the game.

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