For the second time in three years, the Central Maine Community College Mustangs are the USCAA Division 2 national champions.

CMCC seized control with a 12-0 run to take a 35-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and then held off Villa Maria of Buffalo, NY, 85-78, in the championship final in Uniontown, Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Kristin Huntress and Brooke Reynolds led five Mustangs in double figures with 17 points apiece in the victory. Jordyn Reynolds added 14 points, while Alex Bessey chipped in with 12 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute. Natalie Thurber contributed 10 points off the bench.

“We had a terrible loss last season (75-64, to Johnson & Wales) in the championship game,” said junior forward Eraleena Gethers-Hairston, who had seven points and five rebounds off the bench. “We always would say at the beginning of the season, ‘We didn’t come this far just to come this far.’ We didn’t just come to play, we came to win the game.”

Central Maine (27-2) exploded for 25 points in the final 5:17 in the first quarter. Trailing 10-8, Jordyn Reynolds sparked the run with a jumper to tie it. With the score tied at 12-12 a little over a minute later, sister Brooke made a layup that gave the Mustangs the lead for good and kicked off a 12-0 run.

Mustangs coach Andrew Morong said the biggest hoop of the first quarter may have been the 3-pointer Huntress made that gave his team a 3-0 lead to start. Huntress, the top three-point shooter in the Yankee Small College Conference, had been struggling for most of the tournament, but hitting the first shot seemed to relax her and the rest of the team.


“That might be the highest-scoring quarter we’ve had all year; a great time to do it,” Morong said. “They’re the number one team. They were the favorites. They average 80-some-odd points a game so we knew we were going to have to put some points on the board. We wanted to jump out early and throw some adversity right at them. That may have been the best quarter of CM basketball in the history of CM basketball.”

“That first quarter, we were all clicking,” Brooke Reynolds said. “The energy on the bench, the energy on the court, was as high as it’s been. That really was probably the best basketball we’ve played all year.”

Led by 15 points from Brooke Reynolds and 12 from Huntress, the Mustangs led 48-29 at halftime.

Led by Nina Cray (20 points, 10 rebounds), Villa Maria (25-3) sliced 10 points off the deficit in the third quarter, then continued to chip away in the fourth quarter before pulling within five on Tekia Gary’s steal and layup with 59 seconds left.

CMCC came out of Villa Maria’s subsequent time out and worked 23 seconds off the clock before Bessey knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 80-72 with 36 seconds left.

“It was absolutely crazy,” Bessey said. “I wasn’t hitting shots all game, but that was my whole mindset — shoot, shoot, shoot. So I knew I was going to shoot it. It was kind of like the last dagger for the other team.”


“That might have been the most clutch 3-point shot in the history of CM basketball, at least the eight years I’ve been here. It was unbelievable,” Morong said.

Brooke Reynolds finished with 14 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Jordyn Reynolds had 11 rebounds, three assists and four blocks.

The national championship is the second for the program and for both Brooke Reynolds and Gethers-Hairston, who were part of the 2017 team that knocked off Penn State-Lehigh Valley in 2017.

“We just focused on what we needed to do, and if we did all of the things that we had to do, we were going to win,” Brooke Reynolds said. “In the end, that helped us out.”





Central Maine Community College (Stock photo)

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