June 18, 2018
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Bearcats sink Black Bears in second half

By Pete Warner

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine played quite well, in small increments, during Saturday’s women’s basketball game against Binghamton University.

The unfortunate reality for the Black Bears is, they need nearly a full 40 minutes of consistent, two-way play to win games in America East.

Binghamton put together a game-breaking 17-2 scoring run in the second half while pulling away for a 62-49 victory at Alfond Arena.

“The first half we worked great on defense and then I guess we got a little too excited that we were doing well and we just came out slow [in the second half],” said UMaine junior forward Katia Bratishko.

“We have to put two halves together instead of just one,” she added.

The Bearcats (9-11, 4-3 AE) shot a blistering 67 percent (18-for-27) from the floor in the second half while handing coach Cindy Blodgett’s UMaine team its 14th straight loss.

“Give credit to Binghamton,” Blodgett said. “They sort of waited it out and they went on their run.”

The Bears (2-18, 0-7 AE) were unable to find a defensive answer for Binghamton center Laura Franceski. The long-armed, 6-foot-2 senior nearly registered a triple-double while scoring 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting and logging 11 rebounds, eight blocked shots, an assist and a steal.

“I thought Laura Franceski just had a wonderful game,” said Binghamton coach Nicole Scholl. “She, for the first time this year, was a real inside presence for us.”

UMaine’s defense, which limited the Bearcats to 29 percent shooting in the first half, was full of holes after intermission. Binghamton was effective scoring in transition, attacked the basket off the dribble and also worked the ball down low.

The visitors piled up 46 points in the paint, 30 of which came in the second half.

“As far as dribble penetration, we allowed the guards to get into the paint, but we allowed the post players to get in there, too,” Blodgett said.

UMaine’s worst enemy was, again, itself. The Bears committed 23 turnovers, which led directly to 24 Binghamton points.

“That’s huge,” Blodgett said. “They had 10 points of their 25 in the first half off our turnovers.”

Muffy Sadler scored nine points for the Bearcats, while Viive Rebane contributed eight points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals and Andrea Holmes added eight points, five assists and four rebounds.

Binghamton wound up shooting 47 percent from the floor overall and overcame 19 turnovers of its own.

Kristin Baker of Bingham led the UMaine offense with 14 points, scoring 10 in the last five minutes after the outcome had been decided. Brittany Boser chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds, while Bratishko tallied a career-high 10 points with seven rebounds and four assists.

The Bears outrebounded the Bearcats 41-37, including 18 offensive boards.

Binghamton opened the second half with a 12-4 run, then broke the game open shortly thereafter with the 17-2 surge.

Franceski kicked off the flurry with a rebound basket, then Holmes drove in for a hoop from the lane and Jackie Ward scored inside in transition. Boser slowed the run with an u-and-under move for UMaine, but Franceski scored off her own miss, then connected from underneath on the front end of a three-point play as the Bear-cats pushed their lead to 48-34 with 9:16 to play.

Binghamton scored six more unanswered points to make it a 20-point game.

“They picked up their defensive intensity — we didn’t handle it, we turned the ball over — and I thought we didn’t do a good job getting back in transition after we had the turnovers,” Blodgett said.

UMaine returns to action Wednesday at Stony Brook.

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