STANDISH — Abby Young scored 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds Saturday afternoon to lead St. Joseph’s College to its first Great Northern Athletic Conference women’s basketball title and its first berth in the NCAA Division III tournament with a 63-47 win over Norwich.
St. Joseph’s (23-5) trailed early before taking control, aided by a distinct height advantage. The second-seeded Monks hit some big 3-pointers to stay comfortably ahead of eighth-seeded Norwich, which upset No. 1 Emmanuel and No. 5 Johnson & Wales to reach the final.
St. Joseph’s finished with six 3-pointers. The Monks will learn their NCAA tournament opponent and destination on Monday.
“It feels great,” said Young, one of five seniors on the roster. “We made the conference championship when I was a sophomore. Winning it this year is a great end to our careers.
“Norwich really has a good team. We have all the respect for them.”
The 6-foot-1 Young, who played for Greely High, proved a matchup problem for Norwich. The Cadets had to contend not only with Young but also 6-1 sophomore Morgan Cahill, who played at Yarmouth.
St. Joseph’s led 31-20 at halftime. The Monks started missing their shots early in the second half, opening the door slightly for Norwich, which scored back-to-back baskets to close to within seven.
Mackenzie Dufour, a 5-2 point guard, helped St. Joseph’s regain control. She drilled a 3-pointer, then made two free throws after she stole the ball and was fouled driving to the basket.
“Mackenzie is a very good offensive player who doesn’t look for her shot,” said St. Joseph’s Coach Mike McDevitt. “I said ‘Hey, look for your shot.’ She did and knocked it down.
“We had some real big 3-pointers at opportune times because we seemed to struggle at times. When you can hit a 3 when you’re struggling, it makes all the difference in the world.”
Young has helped the Monks survive the loss of leading scorer Lindsay Moore to an ACL injury midway through the season. She hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the game.
“Abby has been unbelievable since we lost Lindsay to the ACL,” said McDevitt. “I can’t say enough how she has stepped up her game in the last month and a half.
“(Opponents are) always going to key on Morgan (Cahill). When Abby can hit that 3, it’s a tremendous boost.”
“Any time you can hit a big shot, either a 2 or a 3, to keep us up is big,” said Young.
“I thought we won it mostly on the defensive end. It was a team effort.”
Cahill finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Theresa Hendrix, a senior who played at Cheverus, added 11 points. Dufour had six assists, and Skyler Makkinje scored nine points, all on 3-pointers in the first half.
“They hit some big shots down the stretch,” said Norwich Coach Mark Zacher. “St. Joe’s created some matchup problems for us, particularly when Young, one of their bigs, can step out and hit a 3. She’s a very nice ballplayer. They’re a great ballclub and all the credit to them.”
Aliah Curry led Norwich with 14 points, while Erin Clark had 10. Freshman Heather LeBlanc of Sanford contributed seven points and seven rebounds.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: