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Black Bears make early exit in March Madness

The University of Maine women’s basketball team finished off the year losing to third seeded North Carolina State in the first round of March Madness. The Black Bears made it to their second straight tournament by winning the American East Tournament  68-48 over division runner up University of Hartford. The Black Bears had a record of 15-1 in games within the American East and an overall record of 25-8 in the 2018-2019 season. The Black Bears averaged 66.7 points per game while only giving up 57.5 points per game. With one of the top offenses in America East, Maine shot 42 percent from the floor and averaged 16 assists per game. They also forced an average of 11 turnovers per game and scored 18 points per game off of turnovers.

Representing Maine, third-year guard Blanca Milan was named to Eastern College Athletic Conference first team and awarded American East player of the year, America East defensive player of the year and American East Tournament most outstanding player. Millan led the America East conference in numerous categories, including points per game (17.2), steals per game (2.79) and total field goals made (219). During her stellar season, Millan climbed to ninth on Maine’s all-time scoring list with 1,438 total points. Millan posted 26 double-digit scoring efforts in Maine’s 33 games, surpassing 20 points on 12 occasions including a career-high 36 point outing in a win over Brown University in December. Millan collected five America East Player of the Week awards and finished the run ranked in the top five in 11 different America East statistical categories.

First seed Baylor University Bears (36-1) earned a trip to the 2019 National Championship after beating the Oregon Ducks 72-67 in their portion of the Final Four semifinals. For a strong 40 minutes Oregon went head to head with one of women’s college basketball juggernauts, taking a lead at halftime and several other times in the game’s final quarter before eventually falling to Baylor, ending Oregon’s first trip to the Final Four in program history. Fourth-year center Kalani Brown led the way for Baylor, scoring 22 points, and collecting seven rebounds and two assists. For Oregon, third-year guard Sabrina Ionescu led the way scoring 18 points, collecting four rebounds and six assists.

First seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish (35-3) earned their second straight trip to the National Championship after rallying to beat the University of Connecticut Huskies 81-76 in their Final Four matchup. Fourth-year guard Arike Ogunbowale scored 14 of her 23 points in the final period, leading a rally from a nine-point deficit with eight minutes remaining in the game. Ogunbowale added six rebounds and one assist to her impressive box score for the contest. Fifth-year forward Brianna Turner also had 15 points, 15 rebounds and two assists for the Fighting Irish. For the Huskies, fourth-year guard Katie Lou Samuelson led the way with 20 points, two rebounds and six assists. Fourth-year forward Napheesa Collier also collected 15 points, 13 rebounds and one assist.

While the Fighting Irish and Bears move on to their final contest, the Ducks, Huskies and Black Bears head home to try to regroup for another run at the big game next season.

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