A second straight USCAA Division II women’s basketball national title was not in the cards for Central Maine Community College on Wednesday.

The Mustangs fell behind early, and after tying the game back up midway through the first quarter they could never find a way to get all the way back again, falling to Penn State-Beaver 79-61 at Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

“We got beat by a better team, first,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said. “Credit Penn State-Beaver, they played their game and they forced us to play their game and they controlled pretty much the entire 40 minutes of the game. Sometimes you just run into a buzzsaw, you know?”

The Nittany Lions were led by Cheyanne Lopez, who scored 23 of her game-high 26 points in the first half, and also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

“We held her to three points in the second half,” Morong said. “But she was just a force inside, and we are typically — although we’re not a big team — we are pretty well-versed on guarding the post because we guard bigger players all the time, but she was just getting great position. She’s just a very hard worker and made the most of her opportunities.”

Penn State-Beaver led 25-19 after one quarter — after CMCC tied the game at 13-13 on Kristen Huntress’s 3-pointer with 4:29 left in the frame — and stretched that slightly to 41-34 at halftime.

Huntress scored 14 of her team-high 23 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer to give the Mustangs their only lead at 3-2. She also added four rebounds, two assists and three steals.

“Kristen Huntress somehow didn’t get voted all-conference, but she’ll go down in CM history as one of the best players of this decade,” Morong said. “She’s just an amazing woman that I’m going to miss coaching tremendously. She just does everything on and off the court the right way every time.”

The Nittany Lions pulled out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter and never let it go. The CMCC deficit was 62-47 heading into the fourth quarter.

“You know, every time we would cut the lead down to 12 or 13 we’d get a steal or a stop, we’d get a three that we always make, and we’d shoot it, it would be perfect execution, wide-open, go to shoot it, and it would go in an out,” Morong said. “It was just a perfect storm of a day for us on the basketball court.”

Eliza Brault added 12 points and five rebounds for CMCC. Rebecca Davila pitched in with seven points off the bench for the Mustangs, who were outscored in the paint by the Nittany Lions 52-20.

Diamond Thomas had 19 for Penn State-Beaver, while Alexis Cross (11 points) and Jimya Chambers (10) also finished in double-digits.

“I still think this is a season that no one expected out of us, after graduating three All-Americans. Winning our fourth straight regular-season conference championship, our fourth straight conference tournament championship, and then making it to the national championship game,” Morong said. “And while I have all the confidence in the world in our program and with the young women in it, if I said that this wasn’t a little bit of a surprise from when we first started working together with them in August, then I’d be lying to you. They exceeded expectations.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: