ORONO, Maine — Alfond Arena has not been kind to the Boston University women’s basketball team in recent years.
Saturday night, the veteran Terriers ended a seven-game losing streak on UMaine’s home court, building a comfortable early lead en route to an 87-72 America East victory over the Black Bears.
Coach Kelly Greenberg’s Terriers (12-6, 6-0 AE) demonstrated why they occupy the top spot in the league standings, picking apart the Bears’ defense early. It was their first win here since Feb. 22, 2001.
“Our seniors knew that,” Greenberg said of the streak, “but it’s not something I have to bring up. I have experienced players who remember.”
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s UMaine squad (2-17, 0-6 AE) lost for the 13th consecutive game. The Bears were disjointed defensively in the first half, enabling BU to manufacture a 46-25 halftime advantage.
“I was disappointed about the lack of [defensive] awareness we had just talked about in the locker room,” Blodgett said.
“It goes back to, when the game starts, you have to be ready to play,” she explained. “We’re not talented enough, and not a lot of teams are, to start out [down] 9-0.”
The Terriers opened their assault from the perimeter as Kristi Dini nailed three 3-pointers in the first 6½ minutes on her way to 13 first-half points. The visitors also spread the floor and opened up the middle for slippery post player Jesyka Burks-Wiley, who went 9-for-10 from the foul line and posted 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half alone.
“I really feel like our seniors have been doing a nice job early in games, jumping out on people,” Greenberg said. “I felt defensively we did a pretty nice job in the first half.”
The Terriers scored 38 points in the paint overall and outrebounded the Bears 41-31 on their way to 27 second-chance points. Burks-Wiley was nearly unstoppable as she poured in a game-high 32 points, including a 14-for-15 effort from the foul line, and snatched 13 rebounds.
Dini finished with 19 points and four assists and Amarac Umez-Eronini contributed 17 points and four steals.
The Bears’ 72 points represented their most prolific offensive output of the season. It was accomplished on the strength of 45 percent floor shooting.
Brittany Boser led UMaine with 14 points, 10 in the second half, along with six rebounds. Freshman point guard Brittany Williams came off the bench to tally a career-high 10 points to go with two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
“With Brit [Williams], her defensive play speaks for itself,” Blodgett said, pointing to her efforts against BU point guard Christine Kinneary.
“I like the fact [Williams] looked to score tonight,” she added. “She was setting up the offense, but she was aggressive on both ends.”
Colleen Kilmurray added 10 points and Sam Wheeler had nine.
In spite of their struggles, the Bears rallied during the last 13 minutes. With a unit that featured Boser, Williams, Wheeler, Kilmurray and Katia Bratishko, UMaine ratcheted up its defense, holding BU scoreless for almost five minutes, and clicked offensively to reduce a 24-point deficit to 12 points, including an 11-0 scoring run.
Kilmurray hit back-to-back 3-pointers off Boser assists, Boser converted a lob pass from Kilmurray and Wheeler went 3-for-6 from the foul line to make it 62-50 BU with 10:50 to play.
“I thought they played like they had something to prove,” Blodgett said. “I also thought they were very unselfish. When you’re unselfish on offense, offense is much easier. We ran our sets, we moved the ball around, we recognized when there was a double-team.”
However, a Burks-Wiley three-point play halted the surge and Umez-Eronini scored a layup off her own steal to help BU regain its footing.
“I give Cindy and Maine a lot of credit,” Greenberg said. “They didn’t stop playing and they hit some big shots, they kept coming at us. They had a nice second half.”