Photo by Matt Lavoie

The University of Maine women’s basketball team faced off against the University of New Hampshire this past Wednesday, March 6, in a quarterfinal game for the America East playoffs. The number one ranked Black Bears were easily able to overcome the eighth seed Wildcats. The final score of the game was 69-36, moving Maine to the Semifinals for their division.

Maine dominated right from the start, building up a nine-point lead within the first four minutes of the game. New Hampshire wasn’t able to make a basket until halfway through the first quarter, finally breaking their way through a strong Black Bears defensive scheme. As a team, the Wildcats scored nine points, compared to the 22 points by the Black Bears, in the first quarter. Fourth-year guard Tanesha Sutton led the charge for Maine, scoring 10 points. In the first half, she scored 6-8 shots from the field and made both of her free throws, with only one missed 3-point attempt.

The Black Bears continued to dominate well into the second quarter, thanks to an impressive performance by third-year guard Blanca Millan. Both Millan and Sutton ended the half with 14 points apiece. The score at the half was an overwhelming 40-20. A comfortable lead for the Black Bears, however, the game was far from over. In the first half, the Black Bears not only doubled their opponent’s score, but they lead in almost every other stat as well. The team had 22 rebounds compared to the Wildcats’ 18, with third-year UMaine forward Fanny Wadling leading the charge, collecting eight boards. The team also had eight steals and one turnover compared to the Wildcats’ zero steals and 12 turnovers. The No. 1 ranked Black Bears’ finished the half with a significant lead.

Going into the third quarter, both teams were fired up. Despite this level of hustle, neither team could get their shots to fall. Maine eventually started drawing fouls from the Wildcats, who were desperate to get the ball back to try and level the score. Sutton took a total of eight shots from the free throw line this quarter and made each one. These free throws along with a layup gave her 10 of the 12 points scored this quarter by Maine.

Maine erased any chance of a comeback in the fourth quarter. Each player felt their shots and they let up far less turnovers. The Wildcats were only able to score nine points in the 10 minutes of play, while the Black Bears scored a total of 17 points. The 33-point lead that Maine had at the final whistle demonstrated that they are a top contender in the league. At the end of the game, there were three players with scores in the double digits. Second-year guard Dor Saar scored 10, Millan scored an impressive 19 and Sutton scored 24 points with 12 rebounds giving her a double-double. Wadling also dominated with 13 rebounds and nine points.

The Black Bears’ next game will be played March 10 at the University of Maine, against the University at Albany. Albany is ranked No. 4  after the regular season and lost to Maine by only six points in their last game. Maine hopes for a similar outcome as their strong performance against the Wildcats will give them momentum heading into the contest.