After turning in an embarrassing second-quarter performance at UMass in their last outing in which they were outscored 24-0 during a 67-54 loss, the University of Maine’s women’s basketball team was looking to bounce back in their home opener against Yale University on Saturday night at the Memorial Gym in Orono.
But it was simply more of the same in the first half as the Black Bears dug themselves a huge hole by shooting an atrocious 12 percent (three for 25) and turning the ball over 13 times as Yale built a 30-10 lead at the half.
“You aren’t going to win many games doing that,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon. “We just missed shots. Most of them hit every part of the rim but didn’t go in.”
The Black Bears rallied furiously in the second half to close to within six on Windham freshman Sarah Talon’s spinning layup with 8:27 left but the Bulldogs followed Talon’s basket with a 9-2 run that sewed up a 55-46 victory.
Yale is now 3-2 while UMaine fell to 1-2.
The Black Bears outscored Yale 22-10 in the third period, including 9-4 after UMaine senior guard and reigning America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Anne Simon had to be helped off the court with 5:45 left in the period with an apparent ankle injury.
Simon had scored seven points but shot just three for 13 from the floor.
She didn’t return.
Yale’s Jenna Clark, who was named to the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which goes to the nation’s top point guard, poured in 12 of her 15 points in the first half and sophomore guard-forward Mackenzie Egger added eight more.
UMaine missed 11 layups in the first half and was outscored 17-3 in the second period in which it made just one of its 13 shot attempts.
The Bulldogs did a tremendous job defensively, contesting virtually every UMaine shot and forcing the Black Bears to turn the ball over.
“We weren’t going to allow any miscommunication on their slip action or on any strong side help,” Yale first-year coach Dalila Eshe said. “We were very dialed into that in the first half but we had some mental lapses in the second half.”
Clark also had a game-high five assists, three steals, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
Elles van der Maas had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists for the winners and Egger finished with 10 points, two assists and two steals.
Nyla McGill had eight points, five steals and five rebounds.
Sera Hodgson had a career-high 15 points for UMaine. She also had three rebounds. Caroline Bornemann added 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Adrianna Smith had four points, eight rebounds and four assists. Paula Gallego had seven points and three assists.
“We just have to keep shooting the ball with confidence,” junior guard Bornemann said. “At halftime, we talked about our energy and that we had to remember to keep our energy up even when shots aren’t falling. We came out in the second half with better energy, shots started falling and we made the right decisions.”
“We pulled it together in the second half,” said sophomore guard Hodgson, whose previous high was six points. “Paula [Gallego] stepped up to be the point guard, Caroline drove the ball more and looked for those kickouts. There was a lot of good happening in the second half.”
UMaine will host Northeastern at 7 p.m. Monday.