BANGOR, Maine — There are a lot of ways to win basketball games.
Even teams laden with veterans continue to grow and evolve. And it’s a process that can show up in a particular game or over the course of a season.
The University of Maine women’s basketball team demonstrated some of its versatility in Saturday’s 65-55 victory over the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
The Black Bears (11-6, 2-0 America East) experienced some early defensive issues and had trouble finding a collective shooting rhythm throughout, but they still pulled things together.
UMaine’s top two scorers, junior Sigi Koizar and senior Liz Wood, combined for only 21 points on 7-for-25 shooting. However, senior Bella Swan picked up some of the slack with a career-high 16 points, along with eight rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and a steal.
Senior Lauren Bodine knocked down three 3-pointers, and Mikaela Gustafsson continued her well-rounded inside play.
The net result was another win, UMaine’s 12th in a row at the Cross Insurance Center.
“Instead of kind of everybody tagging and taking turns on who has the good game,” said UMaine coach Richard Barron. “We need everybody to play at a high level.”
“We just haven’t quite gotten to the point where we have, over a consistent period of time, everybody playing well,” he said. “That’s what we want to try to work toward, because that’s what we need to do to really win and advance in March.”
Another aspect of Saturday’s game that has been the foundation of the team’s success so far this season was its reliance on defense.
UMaine has given up more than 60 points only twice this season, just once in defeat, and has limited opponents to a league-low 52.1 points per game.
So, in spite of some occasional offensive struggles or poor-shooting games, the Black Bears have been able to prevail.
“It’s always good to see the ball go in, but there’s more to basketball than that,” Wood said. “You need to do other things to win the game.”
UMaine has shot less than 31 percent (110-for-360) from beyond the 3-point arc this season compared with 34 percent a year ago. Koizar is connecting at 42 percent from long range, but Sophie Weckstrom and Lauren Bodine are both shooting 32 percent from the arc. Chantel Charles (.229) and Wood (.208) have been inconsistent.
Barron conceded that Wood’s ability to make more shots will go a long way toward helping UMaine improve its overall offensive efficiency.
“We’ve got to get her knocking down shots,” Barron said. “For her right now, she’s got to just keep shooting.”
BEAR TRACKS: UMaine is expected to be without the services of Anna Heise for at least four weeks. The 6-foot-3 senior forward suffered a fractured finger on her right (shooting) hand during the Jan. 6 game at Vermont. Heise is averaging 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per game.