BANGOR — Sam Goda and her Maine Maritime Academy teammates were on a personal mission Wednesday night.
The Mariners’ junior had never won at Husson University’s Newman Gymnasium, and the Eagles came in riding a 19-game confererence winning streak.
Both of those streaks came to an end, as Goda led three Mariners in double figures with 20 points as they earned a monumental 72-59 North Atlantic Conference women’s basketball victory over Husson.
Maggie Smith tossed in 19 points and Jess Stahl had 11 points and nine rebounds for coach Craig Dagan’s club, which improved to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in NAC play.
Husson, the reigning conference champion, fell to 6-10 and 4-1, respectively.
The Husson men’s squad beat Maine Maritime 83-71 in the second game of the doubleheader.
In the women’s contest, the Eagles had no answers inside for the 5-foot-10 Goda, who also hauled down nine boards and consistently burned Husson on backdoor cuts.
“I haven’t won against Husson, so this was very big for us as juniors, and even the sophomores and freshmen,” said Goda.
Maine Maritime was in control from the outset, thanks to suffocating defensive pressure along the perimeter that gave the Eagles a hard time establishing any offense.
Brewer High product Leah Jackson of Dedham was one of the Mariners’ main defensive catalysts. She constantly harassed Husson standout Bethany Sevey, holding her to 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
“We were just trying to play up on her the entire time, not let her get anything easy,” said Goda. “(Jackson) played very physical with her.”
Maine Maritime used a 14-2 run during which Stahl contributed seven points to take a 21-6 lead near the midway point of the first half.
Husson did close within 10 thanks to a perimeter shot from Noelle Lincoln and a pair of Amanda Gifford free throws, but the Mariners responded by scoring the next nine points, with Smith notching five.
The Mariners’ defense did a great job of taking away Husson’s perimeter game, limiting the Eagles to 6-for-19 from beyond the arc.
MMA stretched its lead as high as 20 in the second half, before the Eagles started pounding the ball inside with Stephanie Comstock. She scored all 16 of her points in the final 20 minutes, and her conventional three-point play with just under a minute and a half left in regulation pulled coach Kissy Walker’s club within eight.
“I think in games like this you have to stay composed, trust your teammates and trust yourself and know that you can make the big play down the stretch,” said Smith.
The Mariners definitely made them from the free-throw line, going 13-for-17 in the contest’s final four minutes while being held without a field goal.
Dagan was pleased with the way his team collapsed on the perimeter.
“They’re probably the best perimeter-shooting team in the conference, and to be honest, one of the better ones we face all year long, and that includes some of the NESCAC schools,” Dagan said.
Leading the way for Husson was Gifford with 19 points while Comstock also had 13 rebounds.
In the men’s game, Husson broke out to a 13-point halftime advantage before withstanding a furious MMA rally and pulling away for the victory.
Coach Warren Caruso’s club improved its mark to 12-4 overall and 5-0 in the conference, while the Mariners stumbled to 7-8 and 2-3.
Husson raced out to a 48-35 lead at intermission, with the half capped by Josh Jones’ highlight-reel alley-oop slam.
But the Mariners picked up their intensity on both ends after the break, starting the second half on a 20-8 run, closing within one on Tyler Pineo’s 3-pointer from the right wing.
“We just missed some good shots (and) they played some good defense,” said Caruso.
The Eagles eventually slowed down and pounded the ball inside to 6-10 sophomore Marc Zaharchuk, who scored the next six points to restore Husson’s momentum.
“Marc’s a huge asset to the team. He’s the biggest guy in the conference, so we’ve got to use him,” said Jones, who led four Eagles in double figures with 23 points while hauling down 21 rebounds.
Husson methodically increased its lead back to double-digits thanks to offensive patience and clutch free-throw shooting, while the Mariners converted only two field goals in the game’s final four and a half minutes.
Jones felt the Eagles were trying to go a little too quickly early in the second half, and that led to turnovers and some easy buckets for Maine Maritime.
“The second half, we came out with not as much energy (as the first) because we were ahead,” said Jones. “We didn’t go into the post at all. We should’ve worked it inside and out, that’s all we had to do.”
Jay Uhrin was a solid 10-of-13 from the foul line en route to his 18 points for Husson, while Zaharchuk finished with 18 points and Luis Medina 10 in the Eagles’ balanced offense.
“That’s the way we should be playing every night, to be honest,” Jones said. “If we keep that up, we’ll be undefeated.”
Maine Maritime was led by Pineo with 18 points, while Paul Campbell had 15 and Dom Drake 10, all in the second half.