ORONO — Navy coach Stefanie Pemper had one word for the first half of the Friday’s Dead River Co. Classic game against the University of Maine: Brutal.
The Midshipmen responded to their coach’s challenge to make a better showing in the second half.
Navy shot 61 percent from the field after intermission, connecting for seven 3-point baskets, and continued to stifle the Black Bears’ offense to earn a 65-43 women’s basketball victory at Alfond Arena.
“We just felt like we weren’t playing with good energy,” said Pemper, who previously coached at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.
“You come all the way up here … it’s a holiday and a long trip, so we just had to kind of decide that we could represent ourselves better,” she added.
Navy (4-1) advanced to today’s 2 p.m. championship game against Florida (4-1), which defeated South Alabama 61-51 in Friday’s first game.
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s UMaine team (1-3) faces South Alabama (2-3) in today’s noon consolation contest.
It was an abysmal “Black Friday” performance for UMaine, which clanged its way to 23 percent shooting (15-for-65), including 18 percent in the first half.
The Bears got their share of good looks at the basket in the early going, but seemed increasingly unable to establish any offensive continuity as the game progressed.
And while UMaine played good defense before the break, limiting Navy to 21 percent shooting, the Mids were able to find plenty of holes in the Bears’ 1-2-2 matchup zone in the second half. Once Navy re-established its offensive confidence, the hosts were in trouble.
“I thought our defensive intensity lowered once they hit a couple shots and maybe (we) pressed on offense,” Blodgett said.
Cassie Consedine made four 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 16 points before leaving the game after suffering a head injury with 9:42 to play. Jade Geif registered a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Chey Arvin scored 10 points. Angela Myers handed out seven assists.
Navy wound up 11-for-27 (41 percent) from 3-point range.
“Look at those 3-point numbers,” Pemper said.
Amber Smith led UMaine with 12 points and six rebounds, and Samantha Wheeler contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and three of UMaine’s 11 steals.
Ashleigh Roberts shot 1-for-10 and Wheeler was 3-for-15.
The Mids outrebounded the Bears 52-40 and committed 26 turnovers to UMaine’s 19. The Bears only scored 14 points off Navy turnovers and 10 of those came in the first half.
“Navy just took the opportunity and we didn’t fight back like we should have,” Wheeler said. “We just really got down on ourselves more than we usually (do).”
Navy demonstrated patience on the offensive end and broke the game open early in the second half. The Midshipmen did a nice job working the ball inside-out and around the perimeter against UMaine’s matchup zone, which resulted in open shots.
“Lack of communication really hurt the matchup,” Blodgett said of a defense the Bears had used sparingly so far this season until Friday.
The visitors opened the half with a purpose as Consedine made a 15-footer from the baseline and answered a runner by UMaine’s Smith by canning 3-pointers 46 seconds apart. Geif followed with a baseline jumper that gave Navy a 30-19 advantage with 16:31 remaining.
Navy then got two 3-pointers from Arvin as it stretched the lead to 42-24 with 10:39 left.
“It’s amazing what happens when some shots will fall,” Pemper said.
UMaine has been mired in an offensive slump dating back to Monday’s game against Central Connecticut. The Bears have gone 18-for-81 from the field (22 percent) during the last 60 minutes of action.
UMaine also has only 13 assists in the last two games.
The Mids led only 20-17 at halftime. UMaine played strong defense and Navy settled mostly for long shots with post player Consedine sitting down with two fouls.
The Bears got numerous high-percentage shots, but went 5-for-28 (19 percent) from the field and either didn’t finish or failed to capitalize from the foul line, where they were 7-for-13.
Navy shot 7-for-33 in the half but did connect for four 3-pointers.
In the opener, the Gators took advantage of their rebounding prowess and transition game to hold off the feisty Jaguars.
Florida led 24-23 after a first half dominated by defense, but the Gators of the Southeastern Conference used their transition game to establish a lead.
South Alabama had just taken the lead when Florida went on a decisive 8-0 run that included layups by Jordan Jones, Deaundra Young, Lanita Bartley and Lily Svete. The flurry put the Gators ahead for good at 44-37 with 9:48 to play.
Six-foot-4 Azania Stewart led Florida with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Jones added 10 points and four assists and Kayla Lewis posted 10 points. Bartley finished with six points and 10 rebounds and Ndidi Madu had eight points and nine boards.
Brittney Rutledge paced South Alabama with 10 points, while Christian Shelter posted nine points and five rebounds.
The Gators outrebounded the Jaguars 57-42 and pulled down 29 offensive boards that led to 20 second-chance points.
Navy (4-1) 65
Geif 4-5-13, Consedine 6-0-16, Edwards 2-0-5, Arvin 5-0-12, Myers 2-0-5, Membreno 3-1-9, Matheny, Bauer 1-0-3, Morrison, Penley 1-0-2, Pollinger
Maine (1-3) 43
Wheeler 3-5-11, Baranowski, Williams 1-0-3, Smith 6-0-12, Vanderhoff 2-0-5, Roberts 1-3-5, Ross 1-0-2, Nalivalka, Wellington 0-1-1, Druding 1-2-4, Babbe
3-pt. goals — Navy (11-27): Consedine 4-7, Arvin 2-6, Membreno 2-2, Bauer 1-2, Myers 1-7, Edwards 1-3, ; Maine (2-10): Vanderhoff 1-3, Williams 1-2, Ross 0-2, Smith 0-3
Halftime: Navy 20-17
South Alabama (2-2) 51
Shelter 4-10 0-0 9, Kennon 0-5 2-2 2, Peterson 1-7 0-0 3, Banks 3-10 2-2 8, Rutledge 4-11 0-0 10, Walker 1-2 2-2 5, Simmons 0-2 0-0 0, Robertson 0-0 0-0 0, Nixon 2-4 2-2 6, Ammons 2-3 2-2 6, Cherizol 0-0 0-0 0, El 1-6 0-0 2
Florida (4-1) 61
George 0-7 0-0 0, Stewart 5-8 0-1 10, Bartley 3-8 0-3 6, Lewis 4-12 2-2 10, Jones 2-6 5-6 10, Bonds 3-9 0-1 7, Allen 0-2 0-0 0, Madu 4-11 0-0 8, Shine 1-3 0-1 2, Young 2-8 0-2 4, Svete 1-2 0-0 2, Crawford 1-2 0-0 2
3-pt. goals — South Alabama (5-19): Shelter 1-2, Peterson 1-3, Banks 0-4, Rutledge 2-6, Walker 1-2, El 0-2; Florida (2-11): Lewis 0-3, Jones 1-3, Bonds 1-4, Shine 0-1
Halftime: Florida 24-23