The University of Maine women’s basketball team hit the road for a contest against the Hartford University Hawks on Saturday, Feb. 1. During the game, they took an early advantage and held off the Hawks for a 69-52 victory in the divisional matchup.
The game quickly became a defensive battle as the first basket of the contest didn’t come until two minutes into the first quarter. Third-year forward Maeve Carroll made up for a turnover off of the tip-off with a strong layup to put Maine on the board. Carrol showed some real hustle, getting back down to her own paint to block a shot from Hawks first-year guard Kaela Dothard. Maine corralled the rebound and took off back down the floor, setting up first-year guard Anne Simon for an easy jumper.
The Black Bears continued to hold Hartford scoreless until almost five minutes into the game, as second-year guard Jordan McLemore hit a clean jumper to put the Hawks on the board. A slew of turnovers, miscues and missed shots eventually rounded out as both teams got their bench into the game toward the end of the quarter.
Maine held a 17-12 lead heading into the second quarter but immediately went on a tear before the half, including Simon, who accounted for five points in less than a minute. Carroll and Simon continued to haul in rebounds, score layups and move the ball around to their teammates. Maine went on a roll midway through the second quarter, as they started hitting perimeter shots, with third-year guard Dor Saar leading the way with a few deep jumpers and a three-pointer, helping Maine go on an 18-6 run. Hartford began to close the deficit at the back end of the second quarter but was stopped by half-time trailing 35-24.
After the half, a pair of three-pointers from Sarr was complimented by another from third-year guard Kelly Fogarty to assist Maine in a 13-4 run. Hartford continued to take shots from the perimeter, but Maine didn’t let any go uncontested. They blocked a few shots and only allowed the Hawks to score 13 points in the quarter, while the Black Bears worked the passing game well and ended the third with an 18-point lead. Simon continued to shoot effectively, hitting a pair of jumpers to start the fourth. With a 20-point lead and less than eight minutes left in the game, Maine subbed out their starters and worked the clock down to win the contest 69-52.
The Black Bears got a few days off after the victory, resting up before the next competition on Wednesday, Feb. 6, hosting the University of Vermont Catamounts in another divisional game. With a 70-59 victory, Maine continues to show that they are a late-season team.
Vermont came flying out of the gate, taking an early 7-2 lead with a pair of layups and a three-pointer, but a strong layup from Carrol and three-pointer from Fogarty leveled the score. With two Black Bears firing, Saar and third-year forward Kirra Barra got into the mix, and the group lit up the floor with clean passing, shooting, and ball vision, leading to a 13-0 run.
After controlling the opening minutes, Vermont found themselves down 15-9 heading into the second quarter and fought their way back into the competition. A beautiful three-pointer from fourth-year forward Hanna Crymble to start the quarter was followed by two free throw attempts off the fast break, shrinking Maine’s lead to 15-14 just a minute into the quarter. After making a pair of three-pointers and jumpers, Vermont took a 24-19 lead. Continuing the back and forth action, Carroll took over the paint to score six unanswered points followed by a three-pointer from Saar. Maine would take the first half with a nail-biting 27-26 lead.
Simon came out firing at the start of the second half with a pair of layups and a three-pointer made to give Maine the 34-28 lead. Before Vermont could respond, Maeve took control of the paint on both sides of the ball, pulling in two rebounds, putting up a layup and making two free throws in under a minute. Vermont was resentful and went on a 12-2 run led by back-to-back three-pointers, bringing the score to 42-40, the second lead change of the game.
To get the lead back, Simon hit a three-pointer followed by a pair of rebounds and a pair of layups from Carrol. This would give Maine the 49-44 lead to end the third quarter.
The fourth would not start so hot for Maine, as they would not score at all in the first four minutes of the fourth leading to another lead change with a one-point deficit. Saar made a three to help Maine reclaim the lead as she tried to heat up an otherwise cold performance compared to her previous games. Simon then forced a 14-7 streak with stellar assists to her teammates and drives to the basket of her own. The offensive assault proved to be enough to finish off the Catamounts, and Maine celebrated their 70-59 victory.
Maine has two games this upcoming week, as they host the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Wednesday, Feb. 12, then travel to Albany to play the University at Albany on Saturday, Feb. 15.