University of Maine women’s basketball coach Amy Vachon said that in all of her years as a player and a coach, she has never been involved with a team that has had as many injuries as this year’s squad.
Despite the rash of season-ending injuries costing her the services of reigning America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Blanca Millan, 2018-2019 league rebounding leader Fanny Wadling and reserves Alex Bolozova and Sierra Tapley, the Black Bears find themselves 4-3 in the league as they approach the midway point of the conference schedule.
UMaine (8-13) sits in third place, behind league leader Stony Brook (7-0) and second place UMass Lowell (6-0). The two-time defending America East champion has lost to both on the road, but has home dates remaining with each.
In addition to the season-ending injuries, freshman forward Abbe Laurence hasn’t played since Dec. 21 due to a knee injury, transfer graduate student Gaddy Lefft has been limited to 7.6 minutes per game due to an Achilles tendon ailment and junior forward Kira Barra has averaged only 10.6 minutes per game due to a knee problem.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Vachon said. “They’re resilient. They have never hung their heads, complained or asked ‘Why us? They work hard every day.”
Vachon said she explained at Thanksgiving that the process of reinventing themselves given the personnel losses was going to take time and patience.
“It’s hard to lose when you aren’t used to losing, but we have to keep the big picture in mind,” Vachon said. “Hopefully, they’ll get more confident and keep improving.”
The Black Bears play the University of Maryland Baltimore County (5-12, 1-5) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Bangor after three straight conference road games.
The undersized Black Bears are coming off one of their best performances of the season in Wednesday’s 65-47 win at Vermont against a team that had won three in a row.
And UMaine was without freshman guard Anne Simon, who was coming off a 28-point performance against Binghamton that earned her a third AE Rookie of the Week honor. Simon missed the game due to the flu but is expected back on Sunday.
UMaine placed four players in double figures including junior forward Maeve Carroll, whose 23 points and 15 rebounds were career highs.
“Maeve is doing a lot for us. She is really confident right now,” Vachon said.
Carroll, who averaged 2.6 points and 3.7 rebounds off the bench last season, is averaging 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds with 2.4 assists per game this winter. She is the conference’s No. 4 rebounder despite being undersized (5-foot-11).
UMaine doesn’t have a scorer among the top 13 in the conference but it does have balance with Simon (11.3), junior point guard Dor Saar (11.0) and Carroll in the Nos. 14, 15 and 16 spots.
Simon is also averaging 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals. Saar is No. 3 in the league in assists with 4.2 per game.
Fifth-year senior Maddy McVicar of Calais, is averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds this season. She posted 3.1 points and 1.2 rebounds a year ago.
Junior guard Kelly Fogarty (7.2 ppg) has almost doubled last year’s offensive output. Finnish freshman guard Anna Kahelin (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg) has played 25.3 minutes per game.
The Black Bears finish with five of their last seven league games at home, where it is 3-0 this season against America East rivals.