CASTLETON, Vermont – University of Maine at Farmington senior Tia Day drained a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining in the game, lifting the Beavers to a 58-57 win over New England College in Sunday’s first game of the Castleton University Spartan Classic held at Glenbrook Gym.
The win over New England College, who captured the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championship in 2019-20, gives UMF women’s basketball its first 2-0 start since the 2017-18 season.
The Beavers went 7-of-8 at the free-throw line over the final two minutes of the game to come out on top in a see-saw contest against the Pilgrims that had 14 lead changes and 14 ties.
New England College (2-3) was leading 55-51 with 1:43 on the clock following Mariah Thomas’ layup, but UMF’s Page Brown pulled the Beavers back to within two with a pair of foul shots at the other end of the floor.
A technical foul called on NEC’s Kayla Goldring sent senior Alex Bessey to the line, where she connected on one of her two shots to further narrow the Pilgrims’ lead. A foul by New England College’s Thomas on the ensuing UMF possession put McKenna Brodeur on the free-throw line, where she converted both to give the Beavers a 56-55 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
Thomas put the Pilgrims back in front, 57-56, with two successful foul shots off a foul by UMF’s Brown with seven seconds showing on the clock. However, Thomas then fouled Day on her driving layup down the lane with the final seconds ticking away, putting Day on the line with the chance to give the Beavers the win.
Courtney Brown tallied 15 points off the bench on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and a 6-of-7 effort at the line to lead the Beavers in scoring, while Bessey finished the day with 14 points and five rebounds. Brodeur added nine points to go with a team-high seven rebounds.
Day finished with four points versus the Pilgrims, giving her 23 points over the two-day tournament to earn Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Bessey was also rewarded for her 24-point tally over the weekend with a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Brianna Pierreval paced the Pilgrims with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Goldring finished with 13 points before fouling out on the fourth-quarter technical foul.
UMF shot .327 (16-of-49) from the field, slightly trailing NEC’s .333 (23-of-69) shooting percentage, but the Beavers took advantage of the Pilgrims’ 21 fouls to chart a 23-of-33 ledger (.697) at the free-throw line. New England College finished the game a mere 9-of-22 (.409) at the charity stripe.
UMF women’s basketball heads down to Lewiston on Tuesday night to face Bates College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.