It was a career night for University of Maine’s fourth-year guard Olivia Rockwood, as she scored a personal best of 24 points, including eight 3-point field goals en route to a solid victory over the Bryant Bulldogs by a score of 70-58 on Saturday.
With the road win, UMaine advances to 15-8 standings overall and 8-1 in America East conference play. The Black Bears are tied atop the table with the University of Albany, who handed them their only conference loss of the season on Jan. 25.
There was little doubt in the outcome of the game, as Maine seized the lead in the first minute of the game and would not relinquish it for the rest of the night.
Stifling defense proved instrumental in Maine’s dominance, as they soundly won the turnover battle while limiting the Bulldogs’ field goal percentage when it mattered most.
Rockwood was not the only standout performer for UMaine on Saturday. Third-year forward and reigning conference player of the year Adrianna Smith exhibited her all-around dominance once again, posting her 16th double-double of the season.
Smith mustered 16 points and 13 rebounds, adding eight assists and three steals for good measure. She continues to vex defenses with her ability to score down low, be physical for loose balls, and be a playmaker when her teammates have open looks.
Maine’s offensive approach on Saturday was clearly to feed the hot hand. Rockwood attempted 17 field goals, all from 3-point distance, as she stepped up to provide the range to the lineup without Anne Simon. Simon left with an ankle injury in the third quarter of last Thursday’s win over the UMass Lowell Riverhawks.
Simon missed a significant portion of last year’s campaign with an injury but still managed to make the All-Conference second team. She has made the first or second team in all four years at UMaine.
The Black Bears’ dominant execution on the road is more impressive when you factor in Simon’s absence. She and Smith rank first and second respectively, in the conference in points per game.
Maine’s well-rounded attack and complete game performances can be greatly attributed to four-time America East coach of the year Amy Vachon, whose contract was extended last week to run through 2028.
Vachon led Maine to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances during her tenure as a player, including the Black Bears’ first-round upset of the Stanford Cardinal in 1999.
Vachon’s passion for the game and her roots at the University of Maine have certainly contributed to her consistent success at the helm of the Black Bears.
The Black Bears will now gear up for the final month of regular season conference play before the tournament. They’ll welcome the University of New Hampshire to the pit this Saturday before the Bryant University Bulldogs visit on Feb. 15.
The final half of conference play will prove crucial in determining if the Black Bears have what it takes to earn their fifth regular season championship and third conference tournament championship dating back to 2017-18.