The Husson women’s basketball team will seek its sixth straight North Atlantic Conference title and NCAA Tournament berth on Saturday when it travels to New York to face SUNY Poly at 2 p.m.
Husson won the NAC’s Eastern Division title while SUNY Poly won the West Division.
This is the first time there has been a crossover title game. The winner earns the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
SUNY Poly earned the right to host it by winning a coin toss, according to Husson coach Kissy Walker.
Husson will bring an 18-5 record into the game while SUNY Poly is 19-6.
The teams played on Jan. 14 in Bangor and Husson emerged with an 80-60 win behind NAC Player of the Year Bailey Donovan’s 30 points and eight rebounds and Megan Peach’s eight points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, along with two blocked shots.
Husson was without starting guard Makaelyn Porter and also had starting point guard Vanessa Duarte miss the first half while being cleared coming off COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s going to be more difficult to win on the road but we’ve improved and they’ve improved. So it should be a good game,” Walker said.
“We’re going to have to break their press and get the ball inside to Bailey. Bailey will draw a lot of attention so that will open up our outside shooters.”
Walker likes the fact her team was tested in its two East Division playoff games, including a come-from-behind 66-55 win over Maine Maritime Academy in Castine in the title game.
SUNY Poly won its two West Division playoff games by an average of 34 points.
Husson players Duarte, Peach and Donovan have played in championship games before.
“Our kids are feisty. It’s going to be a pretty good match-up. They have two good post players [Molly Burdick and Kierra Connor] and we have Bailey and Megan. They have a Division II transfer guard [Lyrik Jackson] and I think we have one of the best point guards in the conference [Vanessa Duarte],” Walker said.
Donovan is averaging 20.4 points and 13.9 rebounds along with two blocked shots. Duarte is contributing 12 ppg, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists; Peach has been good for 8.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 2.6 apg and Porter has chipped in 8 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 2.1 apg.
New Haven transfer Lyrik Jackson is SUNY Poly’s top scorer averaging 20.1 ppg. She has also grabbed 7.8 rebounds and dished out 3.6 assists per game.
Burdick is averaging 18.4 ppg and 12.2 rpg, Connor has produced 10.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg and Lauren Denny has provided the Wildcats with 7.5 ppg, 4.8 apg and 2.5 steals.