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Koizar reaches 1,000 career points, lifts Maine over Vermont, UMBC

On Wednesday, third-year guard Sigi Koizar entered a prestigious club as she became the 20th Black Bear in history to reach 1,000 career points. She only needed four points to pass the milestone, but instead put up 21, marking the ninth time she has surpassed the 20-point mark this year. Following her big performance, Koizar lifted the women’s basketball team over Vermont 63-51. With the achievement behind her, Koizar is ready to turn her attention to the remaining games on the Black Bears schedule.

“I feel like it’s more like a hype thing, and now that I got it out of the way, I can focus on the rest of the season,” Koizar said. “I wasn’t stressed about it. I only needed four points and it would have been a really bad game for me if I couldn’t score four points in a game.”

The home win puts Maine at an unblemished 9-0 at the Cross Insurance Center for the season, while they also hold a 17-7 record overall. Within America East conference games, Maine has earned an 8-1 mark. For Vermont, the Catamounts now hover near the bottom of the conference with a 7-15 record, and they now stand at 2-7 within conference matches.

Behind Koizar, fourth-year forward Liz Wood put up another solid performance. She gave the Black Bears nine rebounds, four assists and 11 points. After that, fourth-year guards Lauren Bodine and Sophie Weckstrom both added seven points, despite seeing limited action.

Statistically, Maine played better. On shots, the Black Bears hit 24-of-54, making 44.4 percent from the field. For the Catamounts, they went 19-of-50, sinking just 38 percent of their shots. The biggest shortcoming for Vermont ended up being their play from the three-point line. Whereas Maine hit a decent 6-of-16, Vermont was limited to a mere 2-of-17.

“I thought we defended the three-point line especially well, which we thought was a big key to the game,” Head Coach Richard Barron said.

During the first quarter, the Black Bears came out of the gate swinging. They scored the game’s first seven unanswered points, creating distance on the scoreboard early. Five minutes in, Koizar hit her second of three successful three-point attempts in the quarter, officially passing her over 1,000 career points. At the end of the first period, the Black Bears held a narrow 15-12 advantage.

With four free throws and a jump shot, fourth-year center Anna Heise helped give the Black Bears more breathing room to work with in the second quarter. Maine managed to outscore Vermont 16-12, raising Maine’s lead to 31-24 at the half. Though the Black Bears were winning, their first two quarters were overshadowed by some offensive misses and conservative defense.

“I thought the first half we did some good things, and maybe missed some opportunities, but we executed fairly well,” Barron said. “We were hesitant in going for steals and we put ourselves out of position when they caught it and that created some scoring opportunities for them.”

In the third quarter, fourth-year guard Andreana Thomas breathed life into the Catamounts. She hit two jump shots and two free throws, giving her team six points. However, Vermont’s inability to make anything happen from the three-point line still lingered, allowing Maine to maneuver past them. Heading into the final 10 minutes, the Black Bears held the 47-35 lead.

Down by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Catamounts needed an offensive spark to get back into the game. Coming off the bench with less than three minutes left in the match, third-year guard Kylie Butler hit two layups and made three free throws, but it was not enough to save the Catamounts. With a last second layup from first-year guard Hayley Robertson, the clock expired, preserving the 63-51 victory for the Black Bears.

Though they left the game in defeat, Vermont had some positive performances. Thomas put up 14 points, while also adding six rebounds. In addition, first-year forward Candice Wright led the team with seven rebounds, while also adding seven points. In the end, what sealed the Catamounts’ fate were their 18 turnovers.

“We’re still figuring it out, and making a few too many mistakes,” Vermont Head Coach Lori McBride said, “turnovers continue to be an Achilles’ heel for us, and you just can’t give the ball away that many times against such a good team.”

Women’s Basketball Dominates UMBC 72-38

The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) lost their sixth consecutive head-to-head matchup against the Maine women’s basketball team, as the Black Bears haven’t lost to the Retrievers since early 2013. The road victory for Maine came in the form of a 72-38 smack down on Saturday.

With their sixth win in a row, the Black Bears now stand at 18-7 overall, with a 9-1 mark within America East contests. For the Retrievers, they fall to 13-10 on the year, while holding on to a 4-6 tally in conference games.

From a statistical perspective, it’s no surprise why Maine left victorious. They outplayed UMBC in shooting going 31-64, making 48.4 percent of attempts. UMBC hit only 14-50, getting points on 28 percent of their possessions. The Black Bears also played far superior from the three-point line as they went 7-22, while the Retrievers hit 2-12. Though Maine coughed up 10 turnovers, the Retrievers gave the ball away 20 times.

Fourth-year forward Bella Swan had a memorable performance, going 10-13 on shots. At the end of the day, she gave the Black Bears 21 points and five rebounds. Koizar’s seven rebounds led the team, while her 11 points were the second best.

Swan got the team rolling in the first quarter as she hit two layups within the first minute. Fourth-year forward Mikaela Gustafsson also contributed two jump shots and a layup, for six points. At the end of one period, the Black Bears found themselves holding a 22-10 advantage.

In the second quarter, points were rare for both teams. After two successful free throws from third-year guard Taylor McCarley, the Retrievers were shut down offensively for the final four minutes before halftime. Maine managed to outscore UMBC by a mere 9-8, raising the Black Bear’s lead to 31-18.

In the third quarter, Maine put the game out of reach. Defensively, the Black Bears limited the Retrievers to only six points, while Maine’s offense found 17. Swan again picked up speed, hitting a jump shot, a free throw and a layup, all within two minutes. With a 24-point lead, the Black Bears entered the final 10 minutes up by a comfortable margin of 48-24.

Despite having the game in hand, the Black Bears didn’t slow down one bit in the fourth quarter. Swan, fourth-year guard Milica Mitrovic and Wood all put up six points each, as starters stayed late in the game. When reserved finally went in, first-year guard Isabel Hernandez Pepe hit a layup, putting the Black Bears up by 37, their largest margin of the game. Though third-year guard Meghan Roxas managed to hit a three-pointer for UMBC with seconds left to go, the clock expired, giving Maine the 72-38 victory.

Outside of McCarley’s 14 points, no other UMBC player went over five points, as accuracy and turnovers plagued the Retrievers. Maine’s red hot defense also limited UMBC’s scoring opportunities throughout the contest.

The Black Bears have no time to celebrate as they host their bitter rival New Hampshire on Monday, Feb. 8 at the Cross Insurance Center.

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