BANGOR, Maine — Mary Nienow picked a good day to have the best shooting game of her career.
The senior guard went 8-for-10 from behind the 3-point line on her way to a game-high 27 points Saturday afternoon, propelling Castleton State College to a 63-57 women’s basketball victory over host Husson University in the North Atlantic Conference championship game Newman Gymnasium.
Coach Tim Barrett’s third-seeded Spartans (17-11), from Castleton, Vt., earn the NAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship. Top-seeded Husson closes out the season 18-8 and awaits a possible at-large berth.
Nienow drained five of six 3-pointers in the second half, including a key basket with 3:17 remaining that ended an 11-1 Husson run and ignited a 9-0 flurry that put the Spartans in control. She was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Also named to the All-Tournament team were Castleton’s Jess Banks; Bree Hanscom and Shelby Bradford of Husson, Caitlyn Laflin of UMaine-Farmington and Brittany Holden of Green Mountain College.
Castleton State controlled the tempo of the contest with its gritty man-to-man defense and shot well enough (46 percent) from the field to keep Husson’s transition game in check.
Banks, a senior point guard, scored eight points and provided nine assists and three steals for the Spartans, who placed nine players in the scoring column. Castleton shot 50 percent (11-for-22) from 3-point range as a team.
Hanscom, a freshman from Mattawamkeag, led a balanced Husson offense with 14 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Bradford, a junior from Lee, contributed 13 points and five rebounds, while Bethany Sevey of Skowhegan added 12 points.
The Eagles outscored the Spartans 23-6 from the foul line and outrebounded them 40-34. Husson shot only 29 percent from the floor.