Picking up on their success from last year, the University of Maine women’s basketball team began the 2015 season in style by taking down Harvard University 64-53 in the season opener on Friday. For the Black Bears, third-year guard Sigi Koizar’s performance was essential. Her team-leading 22 points helped Maine hang on to the lead throughout the majority of the game.
After winning their first two exhibition games against Stonehill and Vanguard, the Black Bears came into the contest looking to keep their early momentum going. Coming off a 14-14 season, Harvard seemed to deal with a decent amount of offseason rust, as they struggled to keep up with Maine’s high-speed tempo.
Throughout the matchup, Maine looked like the more dominant team. They went 22-53 in shots, making 45.3 percent of their attempts, while Harvard went 20-50, only connecting on 40 percent of their shots. Maine’s success also can be contributed to their performance on free throws, as they went 10-of-13 from the line.
The start of the game seemed to favor Harvard. With a jump shot and then a layup, second-year guard Kirby Porter assisted Harvard in stealing an early 4-0 lead, which ended up being Harvard’s largest lead of the game. With the help of a balanced, offensive attack, the Black Bears clawed their way back into the match, ending the first quarter with a slim 11-10 advantage. With such a low scoring quarter, the Black Bears seemed out of rhythm at times, but they managed to turn their offense around in the second quarter.
The Black Bears pulled ahead in the second period with six points from fourth-year guard Chantel Charles and seven points from Koizar. Maine outscored Harvard 20-12 in the second, raising their lead to 31-22 heading into halftime.
Maine came out of the half swinging, scoring the first seven points of the third quarter. Midway through the period, the Black Bears stood tall with a game-high 16-point lead. With the help of a last-second three-point jump shot at the end of the period from fourth-year guard Sophie Weckstrom, the Black Bears outscored Harvard 17-14.
Though Harvard managed to cut Maine’s lead down to seven early in the fourth, Koizar sealed the deal for the Black Bears. With five successful free throws, along with a layup and a three-point jump shot, Koizar gave Maine 10 crucial points, sealing the 64-53 victory for the Black Bears.
For Harvard, the loss came with a handful of positives. They played competitively throughout, keeping the game within reach deep into the fourth quarter. In addition, fourth-year guard Shilpa Tummala set her own personal career-high in scoring with 17 points. Similarly, Porter also posted a career-high nine points.
Though Koizar led the Black Bears in scoring, fourth-year forwards Mikaela Gustafsson and Charles both had a fundamental impact on the court. With 12 points between the two, Charles contributed five rebounds and Gustafsson added six. Despite only having a surprisingly low five points, fourth-year forward Liz Wood aided the team greatly with seven assists. The season may be young, but the Black Bears look to have a promising season ahead.
Boston College bests Maine 55-48
In a tough road matchup, the University of Maine women’s basketball team fell to Boston College (BC) 55-48 on Sunday. With a tied game heading into the fourth quarter, the Black Bears had a chance to steal the win, but they were outplayed in the final minutes. With the loss, the Black Bears now stand at 1-1 on the season, while Boston rises to 2-0.
The Black Bears looked out of character in the matchup, going 18-55 on their shot attempts, sinking shots only 33 percent of the time. BC performed better, going 19-47 while getting points 40 percent of the time. The biggest disappointment for Maine was their performance at the three-point line, as they went 5-26, only making 19 percent of their attempts.
In the first quarter, Maine struggled to get anything going offensively. After fourth-year forward Liz Wood hit an early three-pointer, the Black Bears suffered a scoring drought, going 1-10 on three-point attempts. On the other side, Boston shined during three-point shots, going a perfect 4-4. The Black Bears only managed to put up seven points the entire period, marking their worst quarter all season. With nine points from third-year guard Kelly Hughes, Boston grabbed the 14-7 advantage.
The Black Bears picked up the pace in the second quarter, with two early layups from third-year guard Sigi Koizar and fourth-year forward Bella Swan. Maine managed to tie the game up one minute before halftime. But, with a layup from third-year forward Emilee Daley, BC regained the 26-24 lead in the final seconds of the half.
In the third quarter, Maine looked like a completely new team. They fought hard, and forced three early lead changes before finally getting a seven point lead midway through the period, which represented their biggest advantage of the game. Despite Maine’s rejuvenated offense, BC hung on, putting up four free throws in the final two minutes to tie the game up 38-38 heading into the final period.
Maine’s offensive woes from the first quarter resurfaced as they allowed BC to grab eight unanswered points to start the fourth period. Though Maine cut Boston’s lead down to three in the final minute, four free throws by Hughes sealed the 55-48 victory for Boston.
For the Black Bears, Wood’s performance stood out as a positive takeaway. Her game-leading 14 points and eight rebounds led the team and helped Maine stay competitive throughout the match. Similarly, Koizar put up a respectable 12 points along with four assists.
For BC, Hughes ended the game with 13 points, being their only player to go over 10 points. Though she only put up six points, first-year guard Ella Awobajo’s nine rebounds led the team and contributed greatly to the victory.
The Black Bears will get two chances next week to rebound from the loss, but they won’t be easy as both will be road games. Maine travels to Minnesota on Nov. 20 and then North Dakota State on Nov. 22.