Women’s basketball opens conference play
The long awaited first conference games of the season arrived over winter break, and the University of Maine women’s basketball team showed up when it mattered the most. During vacation, the Black Bears went 4-3, moving them to 12-7 on the season. They also managed to gain a 3-1 record in the America East. Big wins and heartbreaking, last-second losses categorized a memorable stretch of games for Maine.
Maine scored conference wins over Vermont, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and a convincing 74-44 victory at home against UMass Lowell on Jan. 13.
In addition, the Black Bears made history in a Dec. 18 game against Clemson, when Maine beat them 75-42. The 33-point win marked the largest margin of victory for any America East school over an Atlantic Coast Conference team in league history.
On the other hand, Maine had some disappointing road losses. After three straight conference wins, the Black Bears dropped a close 64-59 contest to Albany on Jan. 16. They were then outplayed in every aspect following a 56-33 loss at Purdue on Dec. 21. The most heartbreaking loss however, came in Maine’s last non-conference game of the regular season on Dec. 31. They battled back from being down by 15 at North Carolina, and managed to take a two-point lead in the game’s final four seconds. The comeback couldn’t be completed however, as a last second three-point buzzer beater gave North Carolina the 59-58 victory. Fourth-year guard Liz Wood tallied her 1,300th career point over the break as well.
Despite some tough losses, the Black Bears still seem poised to make a deep run towards the top of the America East.
Women’s hockey suffers a winless winter break
The University of Maine women’s hockey team had a very tough winter break. Over the course of four games, the Black Bears tied their first and then lost the next three.
Maine first squared off against conference foe Vermont. A key power-play goal came late in the second, scored by third-year forward Morgan Sakundiak. Maine held a 3-1 lead going into the last period of play, only to give up two goals, ending the game in a 3-3 tie. Fourth-year goaltender Meghann Treacy had a great night between the pipes, recording 41 saves.
In the second game of the double header against Vermont, Maine fell in a 4-1 loss. A big reason for the Black Bears loss was giving up power-play goals, as they gave up two in the contest. Maine only tallied a mere 15 shots on goal the entire game, proving to be the difference in the loss.
In the third game, which was game one of a weekend double header at Northeastern, was brutal from start to finish. The wheels came off the wagon in the second period for Maine, as they gave up five goals, and scored none in return. Northeastern also shot more than double the shots that the Black Bears had, proving to be a major factor in the game.
In the fourth and final game, Maine fell to Northeastern again by a score of 5-2. The major factor in the game again turned out to be in the shots category. Northeastern managed 47 shots on goal, which more than doubled Maine’s total. Northeastern also converted on the man advantage, scoring two more power play goals against the Black Bears defense.
Men’s hockey struggles continue over break
The Maine Black Bears hockey team struggled mightily over the winter break, including a pair of poor outings against Hockey East conference rival University of New Hampshire. Maine came away with just three points in six total games over the break with a win over Colgate and a tie against the University of Connecticut (UConn).
Maine played a home-at-home with UNH to begin the winter break, and the Black Bears fell in both contests. The first game was played at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland where the Black Bears fell late 5-4. They traveled to Durham the next night for a 7-1 shellacking at the hands of their border-war rival.
Maine split a series against Colgate at the Alfond Arena days later, taking game one by a score of 3-1 before losing on the backend 5-1.
UConn got the best of Maine in the first game of their next series the following weekend by a 1-0 tally. Maine earned a point in their next bout against UConn with a 1-1 draw.
Over the winter break, Maine carried a 1-4-1 record, moving to 5-16-4 heading into a series with Boston University. Three losses to Hockey East conference foes UNH and UConn put the Black Bears in last place in the conference, a hole that may prove too deep to climb out of as the Black Bears draw closer to the postseason conference tournament.
Men’s basketball goes 4-4 over break
The University of Maine men’s basketball team had an up and down winter break. The Black Bears got back their best player and leading scorer in first-year forward Issac Vann, as the team went 4-4 over break.
The highlight for Maine was beating the America East defending champions, the University of Albany by the score of 81-79 on January 15 at home. Other notable victories for the Black Bears were wins over Brown, Quinnipiac and UMass Lowell. The Black Bears also lost a close game by one point to Holy Cross that easily could have went either way.
Aside from the tough loss at Holy Cross, the Black Bears dropped decisions to Fordham, Vermont and University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). After the lengthy break, Maine heads back to school with a 6-11 record, 4-3 at home and 2-8 on the road.
Notable performers over the break were second-year guard Kevin Little, fourth-year forward Shaun Lawton and Vann. Little had a standout performance against Fordham, where he dropped 25 points. He also came up big in the victory against UMass Lowell chipping in 18 points and six rebounds. Lawton also was a key contributor throughout the break, as he netted 17 points and had six steals in the win over UMass Lowell. In Vann’s first game back since November against University of Albany, he put on 19 points coming off of 8-for-9 shooting and five rebounds.
Maine looks to keep up their success and high level of competitiveness the rest of the way in conference play now that they finally have their whole roster back and healthy. Earlier in the season they were plagued by injuries and suspensions, which killed them down the stretch of close games. Things are starting to turn in the right direction at the right time for the Black Bears.