DeLAND, Fla. — The Stetson University Hatters went on an 11-2 run with 8:16 left in the game to take a six-point lead over the Maine Black Bears and held on for a 76-70 women’s basketball victory in the finale of the Hatter Classic Tuesday.
“This is the first time I think we’ve put together two games where we’ve actually played for 40 minutes and competed and actually played the games to win,” UMaine coach Cindy Blodgett told WAEI radio. “Despite the two losses, I’m proud of the way they played.”
The Bears suffered their ninth straight loss and dipped to 1-10 but did a receive strong offensive performances from freshman guard Ashleigh Roberts, who scored a career high 17 points while making 6 of 12 shots from the field. She was named to the Classic’s all-tourney team.
Maine featured offensive balance as sophomore forward Corinne Wellington chipped in with 16 points, sophomores Amber Smith and Katelyn Vanderhoff added 12 each and senior Tanna Ross netted 11. Wellington also notched her third career double-double as she grabbed 11 rebounds while Vanderhoff recorded her first double-double with 10 rebounds. She also had six assists.
“That’s the Corinne Wellington that we recruited,” Blodgett said. “She’s put two games together back-to-back where she’s played at another level and she wasn’t playing with any sort of fear. I was really happy with her performance.”
Maine outrebounded Stetson 46-41, but was hurt by turnovers again as it committed 19, compared to Stetson’s 14. The Hatters converted 18 points off turnovers while Maine produced 17 points off turnovers.
Stetson countered with its own balanced offense as Sasha Sims scored 17 and Jessica Conner and Victoria McGowan put in 16 apiece and Tierra Brown added 15.
The Bears surged to a 35-33 halftime lead behind a 10-point, five-rebound effort from Wellington. Ross added eight first-half points and Vanderhoff grabbed eight rebounds as the Bears scored more than 30 points in the first half for the fourth time this season.
Maine’s defense limited the Hatters to just one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Hatters responded from the foul line where they made 17 of 18 free throws to keep pace with the Bears before going on its 11-2 run to take the lead for good.
The Bears responded by cutting the lead down to 65-64 with 3:21 left when Ross and Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Each shot was set up by a steals, with Smith making the first steal and Vanderhoff the second.
McGowan hit a free throw for the Hatters 20 seconds later and Natasha Graboski nailed a 15-footer with 1:47 left to put them up 69-64.
The Bears stayed close and trailed by 73-70 when Roberts hit a layup with 27 seconds left. However, Brown hit two free throws with 23 seconds left and Maine failed to convert on its end as Roberts missed two shots.
The Bears turned in a strong scoring surge in the first half when they took a 19-13 lead behind an 8-0 run. Four different Bears scored during the four-minute run and were led by Vanderhoff’s seven rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Maine returns to action on Tuesday against the University of Massachusetts for its lone home contest of the month at Alfond Arena in Orono.