CASTLETON, Vt. – Fourth seed Maine Maritime Academy upset top seed Castleton, 57-49, in the first semifinal of the 2018 North Atlantic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Friday night at Castleton's Glenbrook Gym.
With the victory, Maine Maritime improves to 20-7 overall and advances to the championship game of the tournament Saturday, Feb. 24, starting at 2 p.m. Castleton sees its 2017-18 season end with a 21-5 record.
The first quarter went back and forth with three ties and two lead changes. Each team went 7-for-14 from the field, but the difference was five three-pointers by the Spartans, including one from Alexis Quenneville with 33 seconds remaining in the period, to give Castleton a 19-15 advantage.
Castleton scored seven points in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter, capped by a jumper from Makayla Farrara, to extend its lead to 26-15. Maine Maritime struck back, holding the Spartans scoreless the rest of the first half while collecting seven unanswered points, the last two on a jumper by Megan McLean to close the Mariner deficit to 26-22 at halftime.
The Mariners scored the first four points of the third quarter to tie the game at 26-26, but after a layup by Eryn Doiron created another tie at 28-28, Brooke Raiche hit a three-pointer to put the Spartans back on top, 31-28. A layup by Emilee Bose helped Castleton extend the lead back to six at 36-30, but Maine Maritime scored five straight points in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, with a layup by McLean pulling the Mariners within one at 36-35 after three quarters.
A three-pointer by McLean one minute into the fourth quarter tied the game at 38-38, and then a layup by Alayne Felix midway through the period put the Mariners on top, 40-38. A jumper by Farrara created the seventh tie of the contest at 40-40, but Felix responded with another layup with 3:27 left in regulation to put Maine Maritime ahead for good.
After hitting just 4-of-12 free throw attempts in the first three quarters, Maine Maritime went 11-of-13 from the charity stripe during the final 2:10 of the fourth quarter to extend its advantage. Meanwhile, Castleton could not get any closer than five points behind down the stretch.
Felix shot 9-of-17 from the field to lead all players with 20 points, plus she pulled down seven rebounds and earned four steals. McLean finished with 12 points and six rebounds, and Mikayla Charters contributed eight points off the bench for the Mariners.
Farrara led the Spartans with 14 points, while Raiche hit three three-pointers to finish with nine points. As a team, Castleton shot 38.5 percent (15-of-39) from the field, including 7-of-16 from behind the three-point line, and 66.7 percent (12-of-18) from the free throw line.
Maine Maritime shot 40.8 percent (20-of-49) from the field, including 2-of-10 from behind the three-point line. The Mariners enjoyed a slight rebounding edge, 32-30, and scored 16 points off 26 Castleton turnovers, while the Spartans earned 15 points off 17 Mariner turnovers.
Maine Maritime will face the winner of the second semifinal between Colby-Sawyer and Husson in the championship game.