It was an improbable comeback.
After trailing by 19 with 5:44 remaining in the first half, the University of Maine women’s basketball team rallied behind a three-quarter court press and balanced scoring to outscore Dartmouth College 48-23 in the second half en route to a 65-53 victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Sunday afternoon.
Junior guard Anne Simon scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and sophomore forward Caroline Bornemann notched 13 of her career-high 15 over the final 20 minutes as UMaine improved to 3-7.
The Black Bears spoiled the homecoming of Dartmouth first-year head coach and former Bowdoin College coach Adrienne Shibles from Knox, whose Big Green fell to 1-11.
UMaine entered the fourth quarter trailing 45-37 but rattled off the first nine points of the quarter to take its first lead.
Bornemann, standing under the basket, fed Simon for a layup, Maeve Carroll passed to Bornemann for a 3-pointer, Abbe Laurence scored underneath off a Simon miss and Simon converted a layup off a steal.
The lead seesawed until Carroll looped a left-handed shot off the glass following an Orois pass.
Orois added a free throw to make it 55-52 and then nailed a huge 3-pointer from the side off a Laurence pass to extend the lead to six with 1:50 left. Dartmouth couldn’t get any closer than five the rest of the way.
“That wasn’t my strong spot but I didn’t think about it. The ball came to me and I just shot it. I had confidence at that moment,” Orois said.
“People might think our heads would be down when we were trailing by 19 but it was just the opposite,” added Orois. “We believed we could win this game.”
Simon said the press was the key to the win.
“We played great defense at the end. We knew with our pressure we could turn them over and that’s what we did. Off those turnovers we got easy layups,” Simon said.
“They turned their defensive pressure up and we obviously didn’t handle it very well,” Shibles said. “The turnovers really cost us. The ball pressure affected us. Credit them for their defense.”
UMaine outscored Dartmouth 27-11 in points off turnovers.
The Black Bears held Dartmouth to just one point over the game’s final 4:39 as the Big Green went 0 for 5 from the floor and had a turnover.
UMaine coach Amy Vachon said her team’s intensity came from the press and “once we hit a couple of shots, we felt a little better about ourselves.”
Simon had a game-high six steals to go with 21 points and her 11 rebounds tied for the game-high with Carroll, who also had eight points, four assists and three steals.
Orois finished with 17 points, six assists and three rebounds and didn’t have a turnover in 38:10 of playing time.
The 5-foot-10 Bornemann’s 15 points was nine more than her previous career-high set against Delaware earlier this season. She was 3 for 4 behind the 3-point arc.
“I had a good week in practice. I got shots off I needed to get up. It comes down to believing they will go in,” Bornemann said. “We’ve been talking a lot about believing in ourselves, believing the shots will fall. It wasn’t great in the first quarter but we turned it around.”
UMaine shot 16 for 31 from the floor including 6 for 11 beyond the 3-point arc in the second half after a 7 for 31 and 2 for 13 showing in the first half.
The first quarter was one of UMaine’s worst in recent memory as the Big Green outscored UMaine 16-3.
The Black Bears shot a woeful 1 for 14 from the floor, including three air balls, and also had four turnovers, two of which were shot clock violations. They were also outrebounded 12-7.
Dartmouth expanded the lead to 19 at the 5:44 mark of the second quarter before UMaine staged a small rally at the end of the half to pull within 13.
Carrington Washburn and Mekkena Boyd finished with 14 points each for Dartmouth. Boyd had eight rebounds and two steals and Washburn had six rebounds. Mia Curtis had nine points.
UMaine will host Northeastern Wednesday at 1 p.m.