CMCC’s Jordyn Reynolds hauls in an offensive rebound in front of UMFK’s Ivette Trujillo during the first half of Thursday night’s game in Auburn. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

AUBURN — The Mustangs knew what to expect this time when they hosted the University of Maine at Fort Kent on Thursday night.

Just over two weeks ago, Central Maine Community College suffered its first-official loss of the season to UMaine-Fort Kent. Thursday, the Mustangs used a strong third-quarter rush to take down the Bengals 66-59 in women’s basketball.

UMFK is the No. 1-ranked team in USCAA Division I, while CM is the top-ranked Division II team.

Defense was the name of the game for CM, as the Mustangs held the Bengals to just 10 second-quarter points.

The first half was decided by a couple of extra stops that the Mustangs made to come out on top 30-23 after 20 minutes. UMFK committed 12 turnovers in the first half, which gave CM some extra possessions in the half court, where Brooke Reynolds could shine. Reynolds scored nine points in the first half, and when Reynolds wasn’t hitting a shot, it seemed like someone on the Mustangs was hitting a 3-pointer. Alex Bessey hit two of the four 3-pointers made by CM in the first half and finished with 10 points. Jordyn Reynolds grabbed four offensive and four defensive rebounds in the opening half to give the Mustangs extra chances.

“I thought in the first quarter we were inconsistent defensively and then the second quarter we really started to establish ourselves defensively,” CM coach Andrew Morong said.

“We held them to 10 points in the second quarter so what we were doing was working, we just needed to do more of it. More intensity, higher hands and use our length,” Morong added.

UMFK was led by Trinity Washington, who scored 13 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. However, Washington missed six free throws and eight field goals, leaving points on the board, and against the top team in Division II, that’s a death sentence.

Part of the reason the Bengals’ backcourt of Washington and Tajaheray McMahan was held in check for the first half was the defense of the Reynolds sisters.

“We knew we were not going to catch up to their speed and quickness but what we had over them was size and length,” Morong said. “That’s why we had two 5-foot-10 girls guarding their guards.”

In the second half, the Mustangs continued their strategy of putting different-sized bodies in front of the UMFK guards.

“They’re shorter and quicker but we are longer and taller, so we had our taller girls up on them and then when they got used to that we would put two short girls on them and we would flip-flop every couple minutes so they never got used to anything,” Brooke Reynolds said.

The Mustangs started the third quarter on a 14-3 run behind six of Brooke Reynolds’ 19 total points. CM hit five of its 10 3-pointers in the third quarter to take a 57-34 lead heading into the fourth, including two from Natalie Thurber, who finished with 13 points off the bench.

But the Bengals weren’t out yet, and made their anticipated run to begin the final frame, outscoring CM 17-3 in the first 4:45.

“I expected them to make a run,” Morong said. “I just said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’ We are going up against two All-American guards so we knew they’d make a run. so it was about boxing out and getting the rebound.”

McMahan scored 13 of her 17 points in the final quarter to try to drag the Bengals back into the game. UMFK got within nine points three times in the fourth but kept stalling.

“We knew they were going to go on their run, they’re too good not to,” Brooke Reynolds said. “We just had to be disciplined, keep our hands up, we just had to do all the things we were doing before and not get flustered.”

For the Mustangs, Thursday’s win was a validation of the work they’ve put in this season so far.

“It meant a lot,” Reynolds said. “Especially kind of proving ourselves. We went up there and they beat us and got up 17, so to play with girls who are on scholarship is a big statement in YSCC and even the USCAA. I’m very proud of our team.”

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