ORONO, Maine — After failing to get any offensive rhythm in the first half of Friday evening’s game against Brown University, the University of Maine women found some in the second half.
In the process, they also got Brown in plenty of foul trouble to start the second half, but unfortunately for the Black Bears, they couldn’t capitalize at the line.
Maine shot 34.1 percent from the field and just 58.8 percent from the foul line as Brown’s Bears posted their first win of the season, 65-52, in Friday’s 16th annual Dead River Company Classic first round game at Alfond Arena.
The 1-3 Maine women will take on New Jersey Institute of Technology in today’s 1 p.m. consolation game before Brown meets West Virginia University, a 76-42 victor over NJIT Friday, for the tourney title at 4 p.m.
Brown, now 1-4, was called for five fouls in the first three minutes of the second half and eight over the first five, putting Maine in the double bonus with 10:45 left in the game.
Still, the Brown Bears had a nine-point halftime lead to work with — a lead Maine was able to shrink to one point (36-35) with 13:46 left.
Maine hit eight of 13 free throws in that span, but was never able to tie it up or take a lead in the second half, thanks to some key contributions off the Brown bench.
“We didn’t let it get us down, stayed aggressive, and fought through it,” said Courtney Lee, one of three double-digit scorers for Brown. “A lot of people stepped in for us off the bench and allowed us to stay aggressive, regardless of the foul count.”
Lee had 12 and managed to stay out of foul trouble while also dishing out six assists and grabbing seven rebounds.
Hannah Passafuime had five points and six rebounds off the Brown bench, which starting forward Natalie Bonds (eight points, six boards) was forced to go to after drawing her fourth foul with 15:19 left.
Brown’s guards led the way as Sadiea Williams had 16 points and seven rebounds, and Karly Grace added 13 points and four assists.
“I think [Maine] came out more aggressive in the middle of the second half with their traps, so we talked about attacking the opposite side of the court, making the pass out of the traps, and reversing it for the blocks,” said Brown coach Jean Marie Burr.
Brown was not only able to survive the toll the fouls were taking, but even turn the tables on Maine later in the half.
“With the ball going inside for us a little more down the stretch, we were able to draw more fouls that way,” said Burr. “Our transition defense today was the best I’ve seen from the team.”
Meanwhile, Maine was hitting just two of its next seven free throws as Brown outscored the Black Bears 13-6 to take a 49-41 lead with 6:31 to go. Maine would never get closer than six the rest of the way.
“It’s kind of been somewhat of a trend for us getting behind early,” said Maine coach Cindy Blodgett. “Fighting back from double digits in the first half takes a toll mentally.”
Freshman center Samantha Baranowski led Maine with 15 points while freshman forward Samantha Wheeler added 12 points. Each had five boards.
“We didn’t shoot especially well at the line, but I think it’s good that Sam B. got to the line 10 times and Sam Wheeler got to the line 15 times,” said Blodgett. “I’m thrilled about that because it shows they’re aggressive.”
Baranowski and Wheeler said they need to continue to work on rebounding, as it makes their offense and defense better.
“Overall, we struggled with offensive rebounds, but I think we did a better job in the second half and we were attacking better on offense and making crisper cuts,” Wheeler said.
Colleen Kilmurray scored eight points off the bench while Amanda Tewksbury finished with seven points, eight rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Brown shot 47.2 percent from the field for the game and outrebounded Maine 37-33 overall. Another big edge for Brown was in points off turnovers, where the Bears had 25 to Maine’s 15.