‘Turnover disease’ plagues UMaine women’s basketball team; Maner leaves squad

Posted Jan. 07, 2012, at 12:13 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 08, 2012, at 4:42 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The turnover woes continued Saturday afternoon for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.

The Black Bears committed 23 turnovers that cost them valuable possessions and helped the University of Maryland Baltimore County cruise to a 75-55 America East women’s basketball victory at Alfond Arena.

UMBC (8-8, 2-1 AE) rode the play of its senior leaders as Erin Brown scored 23 points and Michelle Kurowski added 14. The Retrievers, the defending America East champions, took care of the ball, committing only nine turnovers.

UMBC scored 22 points off the UMaine miscues.

“The turnover disease has infected our entire team,” Maine coach Richard Barron said.

“Some steps were made, we had some improvement, but you can’t overcome allowing that many more shot opportunities in a basketball game,” he added.

UMaine was again shorthanded. Barron said junior Shareka Maner, who had missed the previous two games with a shoulder/neck injury, has left the team to attend to a personal situation. She is not expected to return.

Maner, a 6-foot-1 guard, started in nine of the 12 games she played this season and averaged 5.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Senior forward Samantha Wheeler remains sidelined because of postconcussion symptoms and junior Amber Smith is still out with an undisclosed illness.

UMBC took 21 more shots than UMaine and shot a steady 43 percent (30-for-70), while the Bears shot 47 percent (23-for-49).

Senior Samantha Baranowski paced the Black Bears (3-12, 0-2 AE), who suffered their ninth straight loss, with a career-best 17 points and six rebounds. Senior Brittany Williams contributed 15 points and eight rebounds and freshman Danielle Walczak posted seven points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The Bears outrebounded the Retrievers 36-35, but surrendered 17 offensive boards to UMBC, which helped the visitors add to their domination.

The Retrievers built a 42-28 halftime lead behind their efficient offense and pestering assortment of defenses. That included some full-court pressure, which gave the Bears some difficulties.

UMBC shot 46 percent in the half, connecting for six 3-pointers, including three by Brown. The Retrievers spread the floor effectively on offense, which resulted in a handful of open looks in the paint and along the baseline.

The Retrievers also found open shooters on the perimeter as Brown hit three 3-pointers and Kurowski made two on the way to six for the half.

UMaine shot 50 percent from the floor (13-for-26), but coughed up the ball 12 times. UMBC scored only eight points off those turnovers but still controlled the action.

“Turnovers definitely played a part. They’ve been playing a part all season,” Baranowski said. “We just didn’t get stops on defense and (they) just gradually continued to build their lead and we didn’t have any runs to come back from it.”

It was the most lopsided victory in the all-time series for UMBC, which started well and stretched its lead early. Brown knocked down 13 first-half points and Kurowski netted 10 to spark the Retrievers.

UMBC turned a seven-point lead into a 15-point advantage with an 8-0 spurt during a two-minute span midway through the first half.

Raven Harris opened the run with a layup off a cut through the lane, Brown sank a short turnaround shot, then Tope Obajolu hit a fast-break layup and a 14-foot jumper from the lane to put the Retrievers in command 29-14 with 8:38 left.

Williams made two 3-pointers and scored 10 first-half points for UMaine, but had four of their 13 turnovers.

UMBC put the game out of reach with a 9-0 spurt in the second half that made it a 53-31 game with 15:26 remaining.

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