PETERSBURG, Va. — Central Maine Community College couldn’t overcome cold shooting and a tough opponent in the quarterfinals of the USCAA Division 2 women’s basketball tournament Tuesday.

Eighth-seeded Penn State Beaver beat the top-seeded Mustangs 56-50, knocking the reigning national champions out of contention for a title repeat.

The loss also will end CMCC’s string of consecutive national championship game appearances at five, dating back to 2017.

“It’s just — yeah, it’s unfortunate that we didn’t win the national championship, but that’s not why I’m bummed,” Mustangs coach Andrew Morong said. “We have so many girls that this is it, you know? This is it, and now our relationship changes from where it is today, and what we’ve been working toward — it’s not going to go away, it’s just going to change, you know, and that’s just a little upsetting.

“It’s exciting, at the same time, because you don’t come to this program just to play a game or to play for championships and stuff like that. You come here because it’s going to set you up to be successful later on in your life. And once you’re a part of this program, you’re always a part of this program.”

Central Maine (26-3) moves into the consolation bracket, where it will face Penn State Schuykill (25-9) at 10 a.m. Wednesday.


Penn State Beaver (24-4) advances to face Johnson & Wales, the 2018 champion, in the Final Four at 2 p.m.

Tuesday’s quarterfinal was a matchup of the two most recent national champions. The Lions beat the Mustangs in the 2020 title game, while CMCC claimed last year’s crown. Central Maine also won titles in 2019 and 2017, and Beaver was the 2015 champ. They are the only schools to win multiple national championships since the USCAA Division 2 tournament was first played in 2013.

So, it wasn’t a typical 1-vs.-8 matchup.

Morong also pointed out that CMCC was a two-year school going up against a four-year school, so the Lions also had the experience advantage.

“But, at the end of the day, we just we just didn’t hit shots today,” Morong said.

CMCC’s defense forced a whopping 34 turnovers, including 15 steals. The Mustangs grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. They turned the turnovers into 23 points, but only managed seven second-chance points.


In the fourth quarter, they stayed within four points until the final 75 seconds, and the threat of a quick offensive burst was always looming, but it didn’t happen.

“We definitely disrupted them,” Morong said. “They’re a high-scoring team, and we were changing up our defenses — full-court, half-court, zone — and doing some other stuff.

“… So the defense was definitely getting the job done. But we just weren’t generating a lot of points off those turnovers, or at least not enough. And because we weren’t scoring or hitting shots, we didn’t get into our press like we want to. It’s definitely easier to press after a made basket than a miss or a dead ball, so that kind of was like a vicious cycle that kept repeating itself.”

The Mustangs shot 25.3% from the field, including 4 of 31 from 3-point range. They made 6 of 15 free throws.

“We also didn’t get any calls, either,” Morong said. “I think that was a big thing, not making shots, not getting calls. That was tough. It was a recipe for disaster, you know, going against a well-coached and obviously talented Penn State Beaver team.”

The Lions shot 20 more free throws than CMCC, making 20 of 35.


Penn State Beaver’s Kiera Baker led all scorers with 20 points, and she grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Alison Boykin added 12 points and six rebounds for the Lions.

Emily Strachan, a Lewiston High School graduate, led CMCC with 15 points and also notched a game-best seven steals. Luna Love made all four of the Mustangs’ 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Waterville’s Kali Thompson contributed eight points and eight rebounds, including four off the offensive glass.


Strachan was selected to the USCAA All-American First Team earlier this week. The sophomore leads the Mustangs in scoring with 13.8 points per game. She also averages a team-best 4.1 steals per game. Earlier this month, Strachan was named to the Yankee Small College Conference First Team.

Morong said that Tuesday’s effort of 15 hard-earned points is an embodiment of Strachan’s career at CMCC.

“She was awesome,” he said. “She’s had an awesome career here. A career that I think is going to be defined by her relentlessness — she just doesn’t stop on either side of the ball. And I don’t think that’s necessarily how she was defined as a high school player; I think that’s kind of what she grew into here.


“And I think, at the end of the day, that’s just going to serve her well in the future, beyond just at her next school, through when she gets into the real world; having that kind of relentless mindset is part of the makeup of a successful person.”

Three CMCC players made the USCAA All-Academic team: Oxford Hills graduate Jade Smedberg, Rangeley graduate Winnie LaRochelle and Rayna Duzant of Saint Albans, New York.

Oak Hill graduate Desirae Dumais and Monmouth grad Kaeti Butterfield, who play for UMaine-Augusta, and Oxford Hills graduate Bailey Whitney of Southern Maine CC, also are on the All-Academic team.

UMA’s Alisyn Alley, who played at Stearns, and SMCC’s Maddy York (Lincoln Academy) are second-team All-Americans, while SMCC’s Ashleigh Mathisen (Deering) earned honorable mention.

Boston Caldwell of the CMCC men’s team was picked for the USCAA All-American Second Team. Caldwell, a freshman from New Zealand, led the Mustangs with 15.6 points per game.

Also on the men’s All-American Second Team is SMCC’s Jack Pyzynski (Thornton), while UMaine-Augusta’s Trevor Beals (Massabesic) received honorable mention.

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