CMCC’s Alyssa Everett, left, and Chandler True, right, steal the ball from Bryant & Stratton’s Kori Hardee during Saturday’s game. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — The Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team used a mixture of veteran leadership and freshmen that are quickly growing into their roles on Saturday to secure the team’s 10th win of the year. 

The Mustangs took down the Bryant & Stratton-Albany Bobcats 86-60 to move to 10-1 on the season. Albany fell to 3-5. 

CMCC has been juggling a roster that saw 14 players step on the court on Saturday. Coach Andrew Morong thought he had a good idea of who would be in the first few lineups, but near the end of the first quarter second-year guard Rebecca Davila went down with what Morong described as a hyper-extended right knee. The injury thrust more of his freshmen into larger playing roles early. 

“We’ve been dealt a lot of injuries this year, and we got another one tonight so it was basically next woman up,” Morong said. “That’s kind of been our mentality the last three weeks is next woman up. I think a lot of our freshmen have gotten a lot more time than they would have because of the injuries and I think that’s been great. They’ve been developing with confidence and I think it’s great this early in the season.”

CMCC took a 19-11 lead into the second quarter but was without Davila and third-year guard Kristen Huntress, who was in foul trouble early. 

The Mustangs played a lot of freshmen in the second quarter — they have 10 on the team — and 22 of the team’s 27 points in the period were from first-year players. 

Eliza Brault scored seven of her 18 total points in the second, while Alyssa Everett scored six of her nine in the quarter as well. 

“Eliza has been up and down,” Morong said. “She had a triple-double a couple games ago, then she shot 1-10, but she’s a freshman and that’s what they do. Tonight she was under control, she didn’t rush at all, she knew when to take the shot and that was great. Alyssa, when she chooses to get after it, I don’t know how you stop her. She’s 5-11, she can shoot from the outside, take it off the bounce. She’s a very special player, we just need it consistently.”

The injury to Davila threw the rotations off a bit, and freshmen had to fill the gaps. 

Morong said that the mounting injuries have put the rotations out of whack to start the season.

“We thought we had a plan in place and then an injury happens,” Morong said. “Our starting lineup has been very fluid and we tell them that it’s going to be different every day, so don’t expect the same one. I think that helps. I don’t know, it’s been tricky to figure out because we have so many girls that can do so many things.”

For Huntress, who finished with a game-high 27 points, the change in teammates on the floor at any given time has opened up the offense by giving her different weapons to work with. 

“I kind of like it because everyone brings something different to the table and so, depending on who it is, we get different looks,” Huntress said. “We play differently depending on who it is and it’s kind of nice to not be playing in that same rotation every time.”

In the third, Huntress was put back onto the floor and made her presence known quickly. 

Just-over a minute into the second half Huntress drilled a 3-pointer to put CMCC up 49-36. A minute and a half later and Huntress hit another 3 from the left corner to put the Mustangs on top 52-36. Two possessions later and Huntress drilled a shot behind the line from the same corner. 

Albany then tried to inbound the ball, but Huntress stole the ball near halfcourt and then ran to the same corner and hit her fourth 3-pointer. Huntress finished her barrage from behind the arc with a fifth 3-pointer with five minutes left in the quarter that put the Mustangs up by 23 points. 

“I knew I had to make up for the time I missed because of fouls and so I wanted to go in there and make an impact,” Huntress said. “I was ready to hit my shots. They haven’t been falling lately so I knew that that’s what I had to do.”

Huntress was the primary scorer for the Mustangs on Saturday, but CMCC’s depth gives teams problems because anyone can score on any night, according to Morong. 

“We don’t know who it’s going to be game to game,” Morong said. “Today it was Kristen with 27 points. She was in double figures once a couple games ago but it’s been a while. Sometimes it’s Natalie (Thurber), sometimes it’s Alyssa, Eliza, we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s hard to prepare for. I told the girls before the game that at some point we are going to have to put it all together. We usually do one thing really well but sacrifice something else, so we have to keep working across the ball.”

While Huntress was raining 3s, CMCC’s only other junior, Thurber, was busy getting possession back via charges. 

Thurber took five in total for the Mustangs and Morong said his team earned two or three more during the game.

“It gets us so pumped and it just brings our energy up so much more when we see her take those charges,” Huntress said.

“It’s the most exciting play in women’s basketball,” Morong said. “We don’t have the dunk, but we have the offensive foul and we take a lot of time practicing it.”

The Mustangs coasted to the win in the fourth quarter, giving a lot of the younger players some valuable playing time. CMCC will play Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences next Saturday.


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