BURLINGTON, Vt. — May Kotsopoulos scored a game-high 22 points and her Vermont Catamounts punished the University of Maine women inside en route to an 86-51 victory at Patrick Gymnasium Wednesday night.
The Catamounts capitalized in three areas — points in the paint, points off turnovers and scoring runs — to seize control of the game just before halftime and never let go.
Vermont, now 10-8 overall and 4-1 in America East conference play, outscored the Black Bears 40-16 in the paint and 32-16 off turnovers.
“We had lots of matchup problems, but I think the main thing is our lack of scoring,” said Maine head coach Cindy Blodgett. “We had some really good looks, but there are times we just don’t knock them down. We don’t get a lot of good looks, so when we do we have to make them.”
The Catamounts also got off to quick starts in each half, outscoring Maine 7-0 to start and then scoring nine straight points in a 90-second span to start the second half.
“When a team goes off on runs like that, being a young team, that affects us,” Blodgett said. “I think it’s mentally deflating when that happens.”
Maine was led by Tanna Ross and freshman guard Jasmine Rush, who combined for 24 points off the bench and gave Maine a 37-27 edge in bench scoring.
The 11 points was a career high for Rush. Ross, a sophomore from Hampden Academy, scored 13 in 14 minutes.
“Jasmine has played very well the last two practices and this is a real positive as her coming around,” Blodgett said.
The Bears, now 2-16 overall and 0-5 in AE play, came back to outscore Vermont 16-13 after falling behind 7-0 in the first and were down 20-16 after Kristin Baker hit a 3-pointer nine minutes before halftime, but Vermont reeled off 11 straight points to take a lead that would never dip below 10 the rest of the game.
“That really did hurt us. We had trouble closing out the half in our Albany game as well and we have to eliminate those kinds of stretches,” Blodgett said.
The 9-0 run to start the second half gave Vermont a 48-24 lead.
Vermont outrebounded Maine 37-26 and committed 14 turnovers to Maine’s 22.
Kelli Poles scored 12 points off the Vermont bench and Courtnay Pilypaitis added 10 to go with a game-high six assists.
Blodgett said her young team has to continue working hard in practice to eliminate the miscues such as turnovers that are plaguing the Bears.
“For us, every practice I’ve tried to tell the team every practice is a game for us,” she said. “There are plenty of areas we need to improve and we just continue to work on them.”