While the University of Maine wasn’t in session over winter break, the women’s basketball team continued to work and spent a lot of time on the road. After winning the American East last year, the reigning champs are looking to kick their season into gear and make it back to back conference victories. Over the course of winter break, Maine played in seven games winning only three. 

On Dec. 30, Maine traveled to Philadelphia to play Drexel University. Neither team could gain any substantial lead until Maine fell to an eight-point deficit in the third quarter that they would not recover from, losing 70-57. First-year guard Anne Simon dropped an efficient 23 points in the loss while collecting a team-high eight rebounds as well. A rough 8-26 from beyond the arc limited the Black Bears offensively, while Drexel didn’t notch a single three-point attempt in the fourth quarter. 

On Jan. 2, Maine hosted Hartford in an attempt to win their first game of the new year. After many lead trades, Maine took a six-point lead to end the first half. Maine came out firing in the second half, gaining a substantial lead to end the game with an 87-73 win. The win was led by 20 plus point performances from third-year guard Kelly Fogarty and fourth-year guard Maddy McVicar. Fogarty carried the Black Bears from range, hitting seven of 11 attempted shots beyond the arc, while third-year guard Dor Saar couldn’t buy a bucket from beyond the arc, missing all nine of her shot attempts. Maine’s bright spot of the night is winning the turnover battle 22-10, but they need to focus on capitalizing on those extra possessions.

Maine then got back on the road to play Stony Brook in New York on Jan. 5. Maine had the lead at the half but had third-quarter struggles, only scoring eight points in the quarter and causing a deficiency that they would not recover from, losing 73-69. Fogarty once more led the team beyond the arc, hitting four of her eight attempted shots from three. Stony Brook impressively blocked six of the Black Bears shots, while Maine wasn’t able to register a blocked shot.

Following the loss, Maine headed back home to host the University of New Hampshire in a rival game on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Maine’s ball-handling and smart defense led them to control the majority of the game, including popping off for 27 points in the third quarter, allowing for a 67-50 win. McVicar led the Black Bears with 17 points, hitting three of six shots from beyond the arc, in addition to notching two assists and a block. Simon and Carroll both played second fiddle to McVicar, each putting up 13 points and gathering the majority of the team’s assists and rebounds.

Maine stayed at home for their second game in a row to host the University at Albany. Carroll proceeded to put up her second double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Saar hit five of 10 shots from beyond the arc en route to her own 21 point night. With both players firing on all cylinders, they propelled Maine to its second straight win. Maine took an early lead that Albany couldn’t recover from, holding a 10 point lead three minutes into the contest and leading to a final score of 60-49.

Maine then got back on the road to conclude their last two games of winter break. First,  they traveled to play the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Saturday, Jan. 15. After some second-quarter struggles, Maine went down nine points then continued to trade scores for the rest of the games, losing 66-57. Simon led the way with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Maine then traveled to Binghamton University in New York. Both teams traded scores until the fourth quarter, where Binghamton’s squad uncorked an 11 point scoring run leading to a 73-63 loss for Maine. The loss came despite an impressive 28 point performance by Simon. This would conclude the seven-game stretch while Maine’s classes were not in session.

After a slow start to the season, Maine has started to play better team basketball as the season goes on. Although they sit at 8-14, Maine has managed to keep a winning 4-3 record within the American East Conference. Maine has many returners who have been to March Madness and know how to win conference championships. These veterans also have the help of some new players such as Simon who competes for the top scorer position on the team.  As the conference tournament approaches, Maine appears to have the pieces to have a shot at winning it again. 

Tune in Saturday, Feb. 1, as Maine travels to the University of Hartford to take on the Hawks.