Rebecca Knight is going home, or at least closer to it.
The freshman from Alfred confirmed Wednesday she is leaving the University of Maine women’s basketball program and will transfer at the end of the semester.
“I’m really close with my family and I just didn’t think it was a good fit for me up here at UMaine,” said Knight, who was a standout at Catherine McAuley High School in Portland before signing to play at UMaine for former head coach Cindy Blodgett.
Knight, one of three players from Maine on the team, has asked for and is expected to receive a release from her National Letter of Intent, which paves the way for Knight to pursue other opportunities.
Knight said she is hoping to transfer to the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, which does not offer athletic scholarships, and play for coach Gary Fifield’s highly successful Division III program.
“I’m going to be meeting with coach Fifield on Friday, have a meeting just to talk with him and see if he would like me to be part of his program,” Knight said.
Her older sister Jessica played both ice hockey and lacrosse at USM before graduating in 2010.
UMaine coach Richard Barron, who is in Italy on a recruiting trip, has been a fan of Knight since his arrival.
“We were surprised by Becca’s decision but wish her well,” Barron said by Facebook. “The staff was looking forward to working with Becca over the offseason to further develop her perimeter skills. We appreciate Becca’s hard work through out the year and wish her all the best as she pursues other options.”
Knight explained that she had a good relationship with Barron, but wasn’t enjoying the Division I experience.
“I think he was surprised, but he understood and he was really respectful about it,” Knight said.
“I really respect coach Barron in what he’s doing with the program,” she added. “We had a good talk and it’s really just not a good fit — Division I — for me, for personal reasons and I think Division III will be a better fit for me.”
Knight becomes the fourth player to depart the UMaine program since the season began last fall. The others were junior Shareka Maner and freshmen Kelsey Mattice and Amber Dillon.
Maner and Mattice were Blodgett recruits, while Dillon was invited to UMaine by Barron as a nonscholarship player.
Knight’s departure leaves freshman walk-on Courtney Anderson of Greene and junior Rachele Burns of Gorham as the only instate players on the squad.
Knight, a 5-foot-10-inch guard and forward, was a key contributor on this year’s Black Bears team that posted an 8-23 record and lost to Boston University in the quarterfinals of the America East Women’s Basketball Championship.
She appeared in 29 games for UMaine, starting in 22. She averaged 25.4 minutes per contest, averaging 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
She shot 35 percent (59 for 171) from the floor and 66 percent (23 for 35) from the foul line. Knight averaged 1.5 assists and added 26 steals and eight blocked shots.
With the departure of seniors Samantha Baranowski, Brittany Williams and Samantha Wheeler, Knight’s transfer takes the UMaine women’s basketball roster down to seven players.
They are juniors Corinne Wellington, Amber Smith and Burns, sophomores Ashleigh Roberts and Ali Nalivaika and freshmen Anderson and Danielle Walczak. Among that group, Burns’ effectiveness has been hampered by the effects of four knee surgeries and Nalivaika recently underwent a second surgery on her right knee.
The late signing period for National Letters of Intent begins April 11. Barron has already received commitments from guard and forward Liz Wood of Bealeton, Va., guard Brittany Wells of Indianapolis and guard Lauren Bodine of Louisville, Ky.