With a season-high 23 points, fourth-year forward Liz Wood lifted the University of Maine women’s basketball team over their bitter rivals, the University of New Hampshire, 62-52 on Monday.
The Black Bears stole the lead early and never let it go throughout the entire game. The road win brought the Black Bears up to 13-7 on the season, while giving them a 3-1 record in the America East.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, have watched their 6-2 season melt away into a 6-11 record after their ninth consecutive loss. New Hampshire has also fallen to a 0-4 record in America East play.
New Hampshire shot the ball adequately, going 20-of-44 and making 45.5 percent of their throws. Maine was slightly less accurate as they hit 24-of-60 attempts, netting 40 percent of their shots from the field. New Hampshire’s Achilles heel came in the form of three-point attempts, as they shot only 20 percent from behind the arc. Maine performed better from the three-point line, where they hit 8-of-23. In addition, Maine’s opportunistic defense forced 17 turnovers.
Within 10 seconds of the opening half, third-year guard Sigi Koizar hit a shot from behind the three-point line, giving Maine an immediate lead and setting the tempo for the showdown. The Black Bears started off strong as they outscored the Wildcats 13-8 at the end of the quarter.
Koizar has been a star for the women’s basketball team this season, and her talent was on display in the second quarter. She hit four layups, giving the team eight easy points. With a jump shot and a three-point basket, second-year guard Aliza Simpson helped the Wildcats battle back to within two points. However, fourth-year guard Lauren Bodine made a jump shot in the final two seconds before halftime, raising Maine’s advantage to 31-22.
The pace of the game slowed down significantly in the third period, as New Hampshire had only one layup from second-year center Carlie Pogue through the first four minutes. Even slowed down, Maine’s offense still outscored New Hampshire 11-9, giving Maine a 42-31 advantage heading into the final 10 minutes.
In the final quarter, Wood gave Maine its largest lead of the game of 16 on a three-point bucket with just three minutes remaining in the contest. Scoring 13 points in the fourth period, second-year guard Elizabeth Belanger did everything she could to keep the Wildcats in the game. She hit six free throws, a jump shot, a layup and a three-point basket to keep her team competitive. With one last push, the Black Bears rallied to put the game away. Maine held on to win the matchup 62-52.
Though Belanger led New Hampshire in scoring with her 17-point performance, she only put up four points outside of the final period. Pogue gave the Wildcats 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. She also contributed a team-leading nine rebounds.
For Maine, Wood led the team with 23 points. In addition, she added seven rebounds, while going a perfect 3-for-3 from the three-point line. Not only was it her best performance of the year, but it also helped her earn her 1,300th career point midway through the game. Koizar continued on her high-octane season by putting up 20 points.
Black Bears hang on to 55-52 win
After erasing most of a 10-point deficit in a clash between two of the best women’s basketball teams in the America East, Stony Brook had the chance to force overtime against Maine on Sunday. Down by three, with only 12 seconds left on the clock, third-year guard Christa Scognamiglio was forced to hurry a three-point attempt, a shot that veered too far right and gave Maine the 55-52 victory.
After managing to survive Stony Brook’s comeback attempt, the Black Bears remain undefeated at home, as they got their seventh consecutive win at the Cross Insurance Center this year. The win vaults Maine to 14-7 overall, with a 5-1 record in the America East. The loss brings Stony Brook to 13-7 on the year, as they still boast a respectable 5-2 record within conference play.
“Any given day, any player can step up,” fourth-year forward Liz Wood said. “Sometimes some people aren’t shooting well and we need to be confident in our abilities.”
When the Black Bears were struggling to put points on the board, Wood was the player who stepped up. She posted her second game in a row in which she broke 20 points, going 8-12 on shots, with a 3-5 mark on three-point attempts. In addition to her 20-point performance, she also added seven rebounds, helping Maine survive on a day when most of their offence was not playing well.
Offensively, Stony Brook shot more accurately, going 18-39 and making 46.2 percent of their throws. Maine was considerably less accurate as they went 19-55, only hitting 34.5 percent of their attempts. When it came down to the three-point line, Stony Brook again outperformed Maine, hitting 6-17. The Black Bears on the other hand hit 6-19.
Scognamiglio came out of the gate strong, giving Stony Brook the first points on a successful three-point attempt. As the quarter went on, she also made a jump shot and another three-pointer, as she accumulated eight points in the first quarter. Though they started off slow, Maine recovered, tying the game at the end of the period, 16-16.
Building off her recent success, Wood gave the Black Bears nine points in the second quarter off of three-point attempts. Though their offense was effective, Maine struggled to slow down Stony Brook, as they outscore Maine 14-13 at halftime, bringing the game to 30-29 in favor of Stony Brook.
After two periods clouded by missed shots, turnovers and defensive struggle, the Black Bears looked like a different team in the second half of the game. They limited Stony Brook to only seven points in the third quarter, and with a three-point shot from fourth-year guard Lauren Bodine in the final seconds, they took a 43-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
“I feel like we definitely took control of the game in the third quarter,” Head Coach Richard Barron said. “Our defense was much better.”
With a layup from Wood and two free throws from Bodine, the Black Bears found themselves with a 10-point lead, with only eight minutes left before the buzzer. Maine however, couldn’t keep control of the ball as Stony Brook battled back to within three, only to miss a potential game tying three-point attempt. The clock expired with the Black Bears up 55-53, giving them the win in one of their closest games of the season. The Black Bears chose to slow down the tempo at the end of the game, a choice that almost proved costly for them.
“I thought we settled in a little bit, maybe I started to kill some clock, a little bit earlier then I needed to when we had that 10 point lead,” Barron said.
With 16 points and seven rebounds, Scognamiglio had a very solid performance for Stony Brook. Though they lost the matchup, Head Coach Caroline McCombs thinks that this game can be used to evaluate the team moving forward.
“Maine’s one of the best teams in the conference,” McCombs said. “I think we learn from wins and we learn from losses.”
The Black Bears return to action Jan. 27 when they host Hartford at 7 p.m.