ORONO, Maine — The University of Vermont has been among the best defensive teams in America East during league play.
What makes the Catamounts so dangerous is, they complement their defense with good offensive players and enough experience to take advantage of their talents.
Sy Janousek connected for five 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 17 points Tuesday night to lead Vermont to a 61-44 women’s basketball victory over UMaine at Alfond Arena.
Third-place Vermont (17-10, 11-3 AE) held the Black Bears to 37 percent shooting while connecting on 43 percent of its shots, including 41 percent from 3-point range.
“They certainly can put a lot of points on the board in a hurry,” said UMaine coach Cindy Blodgett. “Their 3-point shooting was fantastic. Ours wasn’t bad, but 7-for-17 is too high a percentage to give up.”
UMaine (4-23, 2-11 AE) played solid defense most of the way, but simply couldn’t muster enough offense to make it a close contest.
Versatile guard Courtnay Pilypaitis added 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in a balanced Vermont attack, while Andrea Cihal added eight points and five rebounds.
The Catamounts, who have won five straight, also were efficient on offense. They registered 16 assists and committed only eight turnovers. They made 13 steals, four by Amy Rosenkrantz.
“They moved the ball around very well,” Blodgett said. “There’s no hesitation, it’s just constantly moved to the open person. And they know what they’re good at. They know what their [shooting] range is, they know what’s a good shot for them, individually.”
Senior Colleen Kilmurray spearheaded the Bears’ effort, scoring a game-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds — all in only 23 minutes.
“I thought Colleen played very inspired,” Blodgett said. “I know a lot of that probably is a direct correlation to her being our lone senior and she obviously sees that window closing on her career. I thought she played great throughout the entire game, I thought she attacked.”
Tanna Ross of Newburgh added eight points for UMaine, while Kristin Baker of Bingham added five rebounds and five assists. Brittany Williams was a defensive standout.
Trailing 31-20 18 seconds into the second half, the Bears made their final threat. Baker hit a 16-foot jumper off a Samantha Wheeler pass, Brittany Boser made a fast-break layup off a Baker feed and, after three consecutive UMaine turnovers, Williams sank a free throw to cut the deficit to 31-25 with 16:44 remaining.
“I’d say we didn’t play a great first half but we were still in the game, only down nine,” Kilmurray said. “As for us offensively, we didn’t look to score and take our shots like we should have. We just have to look for our open shots and look to attack more.”
Vermont, which missed eight straight shots during the Bears’ surge, responded with a game-clinching 13-2 flurry. Janousek scored five points and Pilypaitis netted four as the visitors pushed the advantage to 44-27 with 10:12 to play.
“I thought we were taking more aggressive shots, getting in to the rim, some good kickouts,” said Vermont coach Sharon Dawley.
“I thought keys for us were Sofia [Iwobi] coming off the bench [six second-half points, seven rebounds], who did really well, and Andrea Cihal [eight second-half points, five rebounds, three steals].”
UMaine outrebounded Vermont 36-28, but gave the Catamounts 19 points as a result of its 20 turnovers.
The Bears return to action Sunday with a noon game at Boston University, then play their regular-season finale March 7 at home against Stony Brook .