University of Maine sophomore forward Caroline Bornemann entered the America East playoffs this season with two minutes of previous playoff experience.
What a difference a year makes.
The Denmark native will enter Thursday’s 7 p.m. WNIT game at Boston College’s Conte Forum as UMaine’s leading scorer during the AE playoffs, averaging 15.3 points per game.
The 5-foot-10 Bornemann also leads the team in shooting percentage (53.6 percent), 3-point shooting percentage (36.4 percent) and free throw percentage (92.3). She is also averaging 4.7 rebounds per contest over 38 minutes, so playoff pressure hasn’t impacted her at all.
“I just try to stay calm under pressure and do what I’ve always done,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another game.”
After appearing in just 10 of UMaine’s 20 games a year ago and averaging only 3.6 minutes per game, Bornemann began flourishing in December after an underwhelming November. She scored 15 points in a 65-53 win over Dartmouth on Dec. 19 and is averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game ever since.
“She has been doing great for us, especially in the postseason,” said graduate student forward Maeve Carroll. “She has been really consistent. She has always been a good player but she gained her confidence so she was able to finally show it.”
Borneman is looking forward to the game at Boston College, which will pit two teams that are coming off one of their worst performances of the season and are looking for redemption. UMaine lost to Albany 56-47 at the Memorial Gym in the America East championship game last Friday, while Boston College lost its ACC Tournament opener to Florida State 63-58.
UMaine shot just 34 percent from the floor, 23.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 61.5 percent from the foul line in its loss to Albany. BC shot 36.7 percent, 12.5 percent and 63.2 percent, respectively.
BC coach and former Albany coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said ESPN told them to get their team together for a live shot during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show only to find out they were the first team left out of the 68-team NCAA Tournament.
“We were all heart-broken but I told them that going to the WNIT is still a huge reward and they earned it through their hard work,” said Bernabei-McNamee who also pointed out to them it is BC’s first postseason appearance since going to the WNIT in the 2010-2011 season.
She told them to expect the Black Bears to “play their tails off.” She said UMaine’s Amy Vachon is an outstanding coach and said it will be a game of contrasts as her team will try to create a fast-paced game while also hoping to capitalize on its height advantage on the boards.
“Maine does a great job spreading the floor and cutting to the basket,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We’re going to have to play good defense without fouling them.”
Vachon said her Black Bears “can’t afford to get into a track meet with BC” and will have to rebound over the taller team.
“They have a lot of weapons. Our transition defense is going to be a huge factor and we have to take care of the ball,” Vachon said. “If we can out-execute them and make shots, we will be in good shape.”
UMaine, 20-11, is led by America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and junior guard Anne Simon (16.1 points per game, 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2 assists), All-AE second teamer Carroll (11 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.5 apg) and third-team choice Orois (10.2 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.9 rpg) along with Bornemann (7.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
BC, 19-11, features All-ACC first teamer and senior guard Cameron Swartz (16.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg), All-ACC second teamer and senior forward Taylor Soule (15.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 apg) along with 6-foot-3 All-ACC freshman team pick Maria Gadkeng (9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 blocks).