BIDDEFORD — As Kelley Paradis and Margo Russell sat at the press table after Saturday’s Commonwealth Coast Conference women’s basketball final, smiles crossed their faces as they described their 75-62 victory over Regis as ”amazing.”

Paradis and Russell, both sophomores, combined for 36 points as the Nor’easters captured their second Commonwealth Coast title since they joined the conference in 1999.

”Regis has a lot of good players and we just needed to stop them,” Paradis said.

And that’s exactly what the Nor’easters did as their defense and rebounding became key factors in the victory. Russell grabbed 16 rebounds to go with 17 points, and Paradis had 19 points while going 3 for 8 from 3-point range.

”The last time we played them we didn’t rebound well, and we knew we had to come in today and box out and get our boards,” Russell said.

UNE came out strong, racing to an 18-6 lead with a little less than 13 minutes to play in the first half. Paradis started the run with a 3-pointer in the opening seconds, and Liz LeBlanc made two 3-pointers during the run.

”The first one always helps,” Paradis said. ”It gives you and your team that confidence and just provides momentum along the way.”

Regis bounced back with a run of its own, at one stretch scoring 11 straight points to cut UNE’s lead to three points.

The Nor’easters responded with a 9-2 run over the next three minutes for a 10-point cushion, then led 41-29 at halftime. UNE shot 16 of 31 from the field in the first half.

Russell drove for a layup to open the second half, but over the next nine minutes Regis inched it way back on the shooting of Meagan Tobin. A jumper by Sarah McNult pulled the Pride within 53-48 with 111/2 to play.

McNult, who finished with 16 points, hit another jumper four minutes later as Regis closed to 60-51 with seven minutes to play, but Beth Suggs grabbed an offensive rebound and made a layup a minute later that stretched the lead to double digits.

The Pride never got closer than seven points after that as the Nor’easters went 10 for 12 at the free-throw line.

”It’s satisfying,” said UNE Coach Anthony Ewing. ”I think everybody worked really hard for it and we took steps toward it last year, as far as learning how to win and believe that we’re good enough to do it.

”This year we’ve just validated all the hard work and we’ve taken that step of becoming conference champions.”

The Nor’easters shot 48 percent from the field, 42.1 percent from 3-point range, and were 79.2 percent from the free-throw line.

”The kids certainly aren’t done. They know the journey doesn’t end with this, and we’re real excited about moving forward,” Ewing said.


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