Losing consistently is difficult for any competitive athlete.
Frustration builds and confidence sags with each defeat.
That is why Wednesday night’s 54-52 victory over Robert Morris was so important for the University of Maine women’s basketball team, which heads to Delaware on Sunday for the first of three straight road contests.
“This game definitely shows what our team’s made of and what we have the potential to be if we bring it every game this year,” said junior forward Brittany Boser. “We’ve got to come out ready to play every game. It just shows you what we can accomplish.”
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s Black Bears (2-4) demonstrated their growth, especially in terms of their mental toughness. UMaine watched as the Colonials, the two-time defending Northeast Conference champs, stormed from 19 points down to within one in the second half.
Despite repeated turnovers and the tide having turned against them, the Bears survived the onslaught and pulled out the victory.
“It’s indicative of how far they’ve come and the growth that they’ve made in the last year and a half,” Blodgett said. “It has to feel good to them and it allows us as coaches to push them [in practice] and at least they understand what we’re pushing them to. They got a taste of winning.”
Blodgett also pointed to her team’s resolve against a more seasoned Robert Morris team as evidence the young group is beginning to develop an identity.
“To be as young as we are, and to be relying on young kids, to be able to pull that [game] out is a positive sign,” she added.
UMaine continues to incorporate freshmen into the mix. Center Samantha Baranowski continues to lead the team in scoring (11.8 points per game), while classmate Samantha Wheeler (6.3 points, 4.8 rebounds per game) has provided a strong two-way presence.
Junior Kristin Baker of Bingham has shown improvement at point guard while shouldering most of the load handling the ball against pressure defense and running the offense.
“We’re asking her to do a lot right now, play close to 40 minutes a game and handle double coverage or even three people running at her at times,” said Blodgett, who hopes junior Amanda Tewksbury is among the players who can provide more of a presence playing with the ball in her hands.
“We are making strides and that’s only going to make Kristin’s job that much easier, maybe take a little bit of the pressure off her,” Blodgett said.
Maine’s Belcher, Canary honored
The recognition continues to come for members of the UMaine football team, which wrapped up its 8-5 season Saturday with a loss to Northern Iowa in the NCAA playoffs.
Seniors Jovan Belcher and Ryan Canary have been named to the New England Football Writers’ Football Championship Subdivision All-Star Team. They will be honored at the organization’s annual awards banquet Dec. 11 in Wilmington, Mass.
Belcher, a defensive end from West Babylon, N.Y., was selected for the second straight year. The Buck Buchanan Award finalist and Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year made 98 tackles, including 17½ for a loss and 7½ sacks.
Canary, a center from Point Pleasant, N.J., anchored an offensive line that helped the Black Bears finish third in the league in rushing (187.5 yards per game). The three-year starter, an All-CAA first-team pick, paved the way for all-league running backs Jared Turcotte of Lewiston (first team) and Jhamal Fluellen (third team) to have outstanding seasons.
Maine women fourth in track poll
The UMaine women’s track and field team has been picked to finish fourth in the America East preseason coaches poll.
The Bears received 34 points, behind favorite Boston University (eight first-place votes, 64 points), New Hampshire (one first-place vote, 56 points) and Albany (50 points).
The rest of the poll included fifth-place Binghamton (33 points), followed by Stony Brook (31), Maryland Baltimore County (30), Vermont (18) and Hartford (8).
The UMaine men were selected seventh in the poll with 23 points. Albany was the pick to win its fourth straight championship with eight first-place votes and 64 points.
New Hampshire (one first- place vote, 55 points) placed second, followed by Binghamton (51 points), UMBC (39), Boston University (38), Stony Brook (27), Maine, Vermont (19) and Hartford (8).
Maine women sign defenseman
Defenseman Chloe Tinkler has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Maine’s women’s hockey program next fall.
In a press release, Maine coach Dan Lichterman said Tinkler, a native of Wabush, Newfoundland, is a “smooth skater who has great offensive instincts. She had a tremendous upside to her game and she is a great character kid off the ice.”
She has captained the Labrador West Lakers the past two seasons and led them to a pair of Midget B championships. She also served as the assistant captain for Team Atlantic in the 2008 National Under-18 Hockey Championships.
She has also competed in cross country, soccer, volleyball and badminton and was named the Athlete of the Year at Menihek High School in 2007-2008.
Her coming to Maine is contingent upon her acceptance into the school and compliance with NCAA requirements.
Skate with Bears on Dec. 14
The Friends of Maine Hockey will have the annual Skate with the Bears on Sunday, Dec. 14 from 2-4 p.m. at Alfond Arena in Orono.
People can skate with the men’s and women’s team members, get pictures taken with them and get their autographs.
Rudy Keeling honored by ECAC
Former UMaine men’s basketball coach Rudy Keeling has been named the recipient of the Asa S. Bushnell Outstanding Commissioner Award by the All-American Football Foundation.
Keeling, the commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference since May 2007, will be recognized during the AAFF’s Banquet of Champions scheduled for Dec. 11 in Newton, Mass.
Keeling coached the Black Bears from 1988-96, guiding them to 104-124 overall record. Since leaving UMaine, he has served as the head coach at Northeastern University (1996-2002) and as the athletic director at Emerson College (2002-07).
Keeling now serves on several NCAA committees and is the chair of the Minority Opportunity and Interests Committee and the chair of the Division III subcommittee on membership issues.