ORONO, Maine — There is nothing like playing in front of a large crowd.
The University of Maine and Husson University enjoyed that benefit during Saturday night’s women’s basketball exhibition game at Alfond Arena.
The Division I Black Bears treated the 1,320 fans to a 92-31 exhibition victory over Division III Husson of Bangor.
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s Black Bears overwhelmed the undermanned Eagles of Kissy Walker as the teams played for the second straight year.
“Having 1,300 fans for an exhibition game is outstanding,” said Blodgett, whose Bears open the season at home Friday at 7 p.m. against Central Connecticut. “It speaks for both Husson, who’s successful every year, and as a draw for UMaine.”
The Bears came out with great intensity, applying full-court pressure in the first few minutes to help them build a 21-0 advantage 5½ minutes in.
“I thought that right from the beginning we brought a lot of energy,” said UMaine senior Amanda Tewksbury. “We really tried to focus a lot on our defense this game, getting in passing lanes, things like that.”
Husson was without four players who were competing in the North Atlantic Conference soccer or field hockey playoffs. That group included leading scorer and rebounder Shelby Bradford of Lee and transfer Amanda Gifford of Lee, the starting point guard.
“It’s hard for us because of not having everybody,” said Walker, a former UMaine point guard (1982-86).
“We still saw some good things. I liked what I saw in Erica Lyford, a freshman. She’s out there playing the post against them and wasn’t afraid to shoot.”
Defensively, UMaine played mostly man-to-man and a 1-2-2 matchup zone. The constant pressure helped generate many of Husson’s 29 turnovers.
On the offensive end, UMaine capitalized on its height advantage, in addition to an aggressive transition game, while spreading the scoring around.
The Bears shot 52 percent from the field (22-for-42) in the first half and made 47 percent for the game. They also went 20-for-27 from the foul line and outrebounded the Eagles 61-30.
UMaine placed five players in double figures, with Baranowski (16 points, nine rebounds) and Tewksbury (12 points, nine rebounds) heading the charge. Kristin Baker of Bingham contributed 11 points, five assists and three steals, while Corinne Wellington posted 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Jasmine Rush added 11 points and five rebounds, Katia Bratishko had eight points, six rebounds and three blocks, and Katelyn Vanderhoff dished out seven assists.
Baranowski said she remained focused on execution.
“You can’t go in thinking you’re going to dominate over somebody or be able to walk on top of them,” she said. “It takes twice as much concentration to make sure you finish your shots.”
Husson was unable to establish any kind of inside game in the face of UMaine’s three 6-footers. Instead, the Eagles settled for perimeter shots and wound up going 6-for-27 from 3-point range.
Lyford, of LaGrange, led Husson with nine points and three rebounds. Bethany Sevey of Skowhegan added six points. Alex Huffman grabbed seven rebounds and Noelle Lincoln of Dixmont had our four assists.