AUBURN — Eliza Brault came through in the clutch for the Central Maine Community College women’s basketball during the Yankee Small College Conference title game Saturday.

The sophomore scored a team-high 14 points in the Mustangs 57-50 win over Southern Maine Community College, helping the Mustangs claim their fifth straight YSCC title dating back to 2017 (there was no season last winter because of the coronavirus pandemic).

Central Maine advances to its fifth straight United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national tournament. They won the national championship in 2017 and 2019, and fell in the title game in 2018 and 2020.

Brault is CMCC’s lone returning player from the run to the title game two years ago.

“Being the only returner was the scariest thing, I think,” Brault said. “Trusting my team to do everything they needed to do, put a test on me. I am glad they showed up today and all season.”

Brault was named YSCC tournament MVP, and teammate Kali Thompson chosen as the defensive player of the tournament.


Eight of Brault’s 14 points came in the final three minutes of the game, after the second-seeded SeaWolves scored five points to cut the top-seeded Mustangs’ lead to 45-41 with 2:51 to play.

Brault hit a 3-pointer 17 seconds later to extend CMCC’s lead to 48-41, and then hit two free throws with 2:13 to play to push it to 50-41.

“Eliza Brault is a fantastic player; that was a dagger for sure,” SMCC coach Katie Stannard said. “I think everybody in the gym knew she was going to hit that 3when it left her hands.”

After two free throws by SMCC’s Tara Flanders, Brault hit another 3-pointer to put the Mustangs up 53-43.

“I haven’t been really hitting 3s all year, but I knew one day it was going to be my time,” Brault said. “I am glad it was the important ones.”

Brault, who earlier this week was named to the YSCC all-conference first team, fouled out with 42 seconds left, but by then the Mustangs held a comfortable enough lead that all they needed to do was make enough free throws to wrap up the win.


“Eliza had an up-and-down year, she struggled a lot of the year. She stuck with it and stayed confident,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said. “She’s so confident. She’s the only returner, it only makes sense she makes the clutch shots.”

The Mustangs also had contributions from the Te Nana-Williams sisters. Leata scored 10 points and Safena added eight points, all in the fourth quarter.

“We were working together as a team,” Safena said. “We were enthusiastic with one another; we really worked hard today as a team.”

CMCC (24-3, 13-2 YSCC) won both regular-season games against SMCC (20-4, 12-3 YSCC), 54-48 on Dec. 14 and 70-61 on Feb. 9.

“When you play three times in a season, you know everything they are going to do, they know everything you are going to do, there are not many surprises,” Morong said. “It’s who is going to execute the little things, the best. We started out of the gate executing the little things almost flawlessly.”

CMCC jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the opening quarter. SMCC didn’t score their first points until Aija Andrews’s 2-pointer with 4:39 remaining in the first.


That bucket was a part of a 9-0 run to take that gave the SeaWolves a 9-6 lead, but the Mustangs responded with four consecutive points and ended the quarter up 10-9.

“By the end of the quarter we were only down by one,” Stannard said. “I think if someone showed me the box score just for their team before the game, I would say, ‘Great, we held a really good team to 57 points.’ But we couldn’t find the bottom of the rim tonight.”

Leata Te Nana-Williams scored five of her 10 points in the second quarter to help the Mustangs build a 16-11 lead.

CMCC’s advantage grew to 26-15 with 2:32 remaining in the second quarter, but the SeaWolves ended the half with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 26-22.

SMCC leading scorer Ashleigh Mathisen scored five of those seven points. She finished the game with 13 points and was named the offensive player of the tournament. Teammates Tara Flanders and Hannah Richards each finished with 10 points.

“Ashleigh Mathisen was our leading scorer, and I think that’s a new role for her,” Stannard said. “That’s not the pressure I normally put on her; she’s just my reliable point guard. It was nice to see her hit some shots, and she got us in the game.”

The teams battled back and fourth in the third, trading baskets until the final minute of the period.

The game was tied 32-32 when Destiney Mora Lopez made a layup and Leata Te Nana-Williams hit a 3-pointer to give the Mustangs a 37-32 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

CMCC will be a No. 2 seed at the USCAA tournament, which runs March 7-10 in Richmond, Virginia. SMCC will receive an at-large bid.

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