SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Katelyn Vanderhoff hit a jumper with 5:43 left to play Friday night to give the University of Maine women their first lead of the second half and the Black Bears pulled away 74-66 to earn their first win of the season against Bryant University.
The Black Bears, who trailed by 14 in the first half, were down nine points at halftime, showed their resolve during a strong second half.
“We’re on the road, we’re down double digits and when you face that kind of adversity, you’re sort of put up against the wall and what are you going to do,” said Maine coach Cindy Blodgett. “I loved the mentality of our group and they came out fighting and they really did a great job.”
Maine surged in the second half to tie the score at 50 with a little more than 10 minutes to play. Amber Smith hit two straight shots before Meredith Soper gave Bryant a three-point lead with eight minutes left.
Maine answered, however, with a three-point play by Ashleigh Roberts, who drew a foul, hit the basket and made the foul shot.
Maine went ahead by one on Vanderhoff’s hoop and the teams went back and forth until Brittany Williams drew two straight fouls, hit her shots to give the Bears a cushion, and Vanderhoff made another basket with a minute left to help Maine pull away.
The Black Bears (1-1) shot 53.8 percent in the second half while outscoring the Bulldogs 43-26.
“I thought they played a great 40 minutes in terms of they never gave up, they worked hard, they fought through adversity and in the end they got what they were looking for,” Blodgett said.
Bryant (0-3) had held a 40-31 lead at half, but Tanna Ross tied it at 50-50 with 10:50 remaining.
Smith scored 22 points and made five steals to pace Maine. Samantha Wheeler had 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Roberts and Vanderhoff each added 12 points. Ali Nalivaika blocked three shots.
Maine was outrebounded 51-35 overall, but committed six less turnovers (19 to 25) and outshot the Bulldogs 45.8 percent to 36.5 from the field.
Siamone Bennett tallied 22 points and 17 rebounds (12 offensive) after having a double-double in the first half to lead Bryant. Freshman Stephanie Cardamone chipped in with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half.