At halftime of Thursday night’s America East basketball opener between the University of Maine and the University of Hartford, Black Bears head coach Amy Vachon reminded fifth-year senior guard Maddy McVicar that she hadn’t taken a shot.
“She told me I couldn’t go 0-for-0 [in a half]. So I came out shooting,” McVicar said.
The former Calais star poured in 13 points in the third quarter on 5-for-6 shooting as the Black Bears outscored Hartford 31-20 to build a 17-point lead en route to an 87-73 triumph at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The 87 points for UMaine, now 5-10, were the most against a Division I opponent this season. Hartford fell to 0-14.
UMaine beat Hartford in the last two America East title games, but both teams have undergone a complete overhaul this season. UMaine junior point guard Dor Saar is the only player on either team who started last year’s championship contest.
UMaine has been decimated by injuries, including season-ending ones to America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year Blanca Millan (knee) and league rebounding leader Fanny Wadling (concussion).
Due to graduation and transfers, Hartford has lost the top seven scorers off last year’s team and has a new coach in Morgan Valley. Kim McNeill took the head coaching position at East Carolina.
Junior guard Kelly Fogarty poured in a game-high 23 points, including a 7-for-11 showing from the 3-point arc, and also grabbed five rebounds. McVicar finished with a career-high 20 points, all in the second half, and four rebounds. She shot 7-for-8 from the floor and nailed all three of her 3-point attempts.
Junior forward Maeve Carroll returned to the lineup after missing the Drexel game due to a death in her family. She produced 18 points, eight rebounds
and eight assists. Freshman guard Anne Simon (3 assists) tallied 15 points, giving her double figures in four straight games and six of the last seven.
Saar finished with seven points, a game-high 11 assists and just one turnover.
“We came out really ready offensively in both halves,” Fogarty said. “That was a big step for us. We’ve had good first halves but we did a really good job doing the same thing in the second half tonight.”
“We shot the ball very well and we kept the ball moving all the time,” Saar said. “We executed on offense and whatever [play] coach or I called, we got a good result.”
“We did a lot of good things offensively and had a lot of good performances from different people,” Vachon said. “But we have to be better defensively. We fouled too much and let them penetrate.”
Hartford entered the game ranked 347th among 348 Division I teams in scoring (47.3 points per game) and hadn’t scored more than 57 in a game this season.
Speedy guard Jordan McLemore’s 18 points, coming mostly off drives to the basket, and her six assists paced Hartford. Sierra Smith contributed 16 points and game-high 13 rebounds and Jada Lucas added 10 points.
Carmen Villalobos provided nine points and eight rebounds and Lawrencia Moten added eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Black Bears took a 37-31 lead into the intermission after being outscored 6-2 over the final 3:03 of the half.
Kaela Dothard’s layup to open the second half made it a four-point game but UMaine answered with eight straight points. The run included a Fogarty 3-pointer and five points by McVicar on a reverse layup off a Carroll pass and her 3-pointer from the corner off a Simon feed.
The Hawks couldn’t get any closer than eight the rest of the way and UMaine expanded the lead to 23 later in the period.
UMaine shot 50.7 percent from the floor including a 12-for-26 showing (46.2 percent) behind the 3-point arc.
Hartford shot 48.1 percent from the floor and made two of its five 3-point attempts and outrebounded UMaine 41-28. However, the Hawks turned the ball over 22 times compared to UMaine’s 10 and the Bears held a 27-11 edge in points off turnovers.
Sophomore guard McLemore said the Hawks played with a lot of energy and turned in a real good effort but needed to do a better job defending UMaine’s 3-point shots.
“We had to make them put the ball on the floor. We were there but because we didn’t make them put the ball on the floor, they shot over us,” McLemore said.
UMaine visits Stony Brook at 2 p.m. Sunday.