SMITHFIELD, R.I. — The offensive struggles continued Monday night for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.
The Black Bears missed 20 consecutive field-goal attempts during a drought of almost 15½ minutes that spanned both halves and turned the ball over 22 times overall, helping Bryant University escape with a 44-40 nonleague victory.
Coach Richard Barron’s team (1-9) lost for the sixth consecutive game and could not solve its continued offensive woes.
“The difference in not just this game, but the last three games, has been the other teams have made layups and free throws and we’ve missed wide-open layups and free throws,” Barron said. “It’s hard to recover from that.”
The Bears shot 16-for-57 (28 percent) from the floor and went only 3-for-8 from the foul line, but did grab a 44-38 rebounding edge.
Bryant (4-4) of the Northeast Conference overcame some inefficiency of its own. The Bulldogs shot only 32 percent from the field overall and missed all 16 of their 3-point attempts.
The hosts committed 20 turnovers, but they were able to answer a couple of second-half challenges by the Bears. Bryant also scored 20 points after UMaine turnovers.
Naana Ankoma-Mensa led Bryant with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Courtney Schissler contributed eight points and three steals. Danielle Douglas added nine points and five boards.
Freshman guard Milica Mitrovic tossed in a career-high 12 points to pace UMaine, while classmate Anna Heise provided 10 points. Sophomore Courtney Anderson of Greene netted seven points with five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Ashleigh Roberts added nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, but was plagued by foul trouble.
“We had 17 offensive rebounds and we had five second-chance points,” Barron offered.
UMaine led by as many as seven points in the first half, using a 9-4 run to go on top 25-18. Mitrovic made a layup off an offensive rebound early in the spurt and buried a 3-pointer at the 7:28 mark to cap it.
However, the Bears went scoreless for the rest of the half.
Not only did UMaine miss its last 11 shots of the period and commit six turnovers during the same span, the Bears missed their first nine shots of the second half.
Heise ended the woes with a layup with 12:05 remaining.
“We score 25 points in the first 12 1/2 minutes of the game and we score 15 points the rest of the game. And we still had a chance to win the game,” Barron said.
“We played well enough to win the game. We just missed easy shots,” he added, comparing the mental aspect of shooting to a baseball second baseman who develops the “yips” and can’t make accurate throws to first base.
The Bulldogs held a 27-26 edge at halftime after taking advantage of the Bears’ turnover and shooting woes, but they weren’t able to gain the upper hand until late in the second half.
Danielle Walczak’s layup with 6:42 left cut Bryant’s lead to 36-35, but Breanna Rucker answered with a basket of her own, then made another layup. Ankoma-Mensa closed out a 6-0 spurt with a close-range hoop that made it 42-35 with 3:48 to play.
The Bears eventually got within two at 42-40 on a Mitrovic layup with 1:03 left, but UMaine couldn’t capitalize after a turnover when Mitrovic missed a 3-pointer.
The rebound went out of bounds off a Bryant player and the Bears had another chance, but Roberts’ jumper missed with nine seconds left and the Bulldogs hit two foul shots to ice it.
“At times we executed well, even at the end of the game,” Barron said. “We missed a wide-open 3 in the corner and a wide-open shot under the basket on an out-of-bounds play.”