BANGOR, Maine – Led by Tournament MVP Kenzie Worcester with 11 points, the #1 seeded Husson Eagles took down #3 New England College Pilgrims 58-55, capturing back-to-back NAC Championship.
The two North Atlantic Conference finalists found themselves in a defensive struggle from the opening tip. New England College saw Marjani Lillard get called for her 2nd foul early in the first quarter. She would spend the rest of the half on the bench. Even with one of their best players on the bench, Daleia Boutwell and the Pilgrims would hold an 11-10 lead at the end of the quarter.
The volume of shots continued for the Eagles, but they still had trouble finding the bottom of the net. Missed lay-ups by Husson turned into easy points for New England College. Denae Johnson and turnovers troubled a usually sure handed Pilgrims team throughout the half. Even with their offensive issues, Husson clung to a 22-21 advantage.
New England College sprinted out of the locker room and into a 6-0 run to give them a 28-22 lead. Rene Hudson had sprained her ankle early on in the contest. It was noticeable at different times during the game, but her play on offense fueled the Pilgrims in the 3rd quarter.
Fortunately for Husson, Chandler Guerrette plays for the Eagles. She scored 13 of their 15 points in the third frame and kept the deficit at a reasonable margin. New England College led the #1 seed 40-37 at the start of the 4th quarter.
Husson put together a 6-0 run of their own to open the last quarter. A 43-40 lead belonged to the Eagles. Hudson tied the game for the Pilgrims at 45-45 with a deep three at 5:20. Lillard then gave her squad the lead at the 3:25 mark with two free throws. The teams traded the lead over the final three minutes, until Kenzie Worcester hit two free throws at 00:16 to give Husson the lead for good. Time ran out for New England College, as Husson captured back-to-back with a final score of 58-55.
Chandler Guerrette lived up to the title of NAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year by scoring 28 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and picking off two passes. Tournament MVP Kenzie Worcester tossed in 11 points, corralled eight rebounds, and dished out four assists. Sami Ireland came off the bench to play solid defense and snag five rebounds for the NAC champions.
Rene Hudson lead the Pilgrims with 18 points and five rebounds. Utshana Durham scored 11 points, and Breana Ramirez came off the bench to control the boards with 15 rebounds in a losing effort.
2017 NAC All-Tournament Team
MVP – Kenzie Worcester, Husson
Chandler Guerrette, Husson
Darla Morales, Husson
Rene Hudson, New England College
Marisa Kopacz, New England College
Amanda Beatty, Castleton
Emmani Robinson, Colby-Sawyer
Husson will now wait for selection Monday at 2:30 p.m. to see who they will play in the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament.