ORONO, Maine — Despite an early run to start the game and another run to start the second half, the University of Maine women’s basketball team fell to the University of Maryland Baltimore County on Saturday afternoon at Alfond Arena, 86-79.
The Black Bears fall to 2-20 and 1-8 in America East, while the Retrievers improve to 7-15 and 3-6 in conference.
UMaine sophomore forward Danielle Walczak led the Black Bears with 28 points and 11 rebounds — both career highs. Senior guard Brittany Crowell paced UMBC with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. UMBC went 12 for 34 from beyond the arc.
“They made some very difficult shots, you’ve got to give them credit,” said UMaine head coach Rich Barron. “I’d say the problem was the rebounding we gave up in the first half.”
UMBC outrebounded the Black Bears 29-18 in the first half and held a 12-2 advantage in second-chance points.
Both teams came out of the gate shooting, with the Retrievers firing four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game as the Black Bears played zone defense the entire first half.
UMaine had the advantage early on down low, as Walczak had nine early points, helping the Black Bears get out to a 21-20 lead midway through the half.
“First time we played UMBC there was definitely an advantage in the post and I didn’t take advantage of it,” Walczak said. “I think coming into this game, I knew ahead of time that I had an advantage and utilize my abilities. After that first basket I got, I was pretty confident I could take it to them.”
Three’s kept UMBC in the game and eventually gave them the lead, as Crowell and sophomore guard Bria White combined to go 7 for 18 from beyond the arc, stifling UMaine’s chances to get back into the game. Raven Harris netted 20 points and dished out nine assists, and White contributed 18 points for the Retrievers.
Kristen Coles added 11 points for UMBC.
Eight first-half turnovers for the Black Bears turned into 12 points for the Retrievers, as UMBC went into the break with a 43-30 lead.
“Fortunately for us, Brittany and Bria were making shots, and that’s what it comes down to,” UMBC head coach Phil Stern said. “If they get off, they can have a big night. They made them early, so we didn’t really have to use much of our continuity offense.”
The Black Bears came out hot in the second half, decreasing the deficit to six points. However, continued 3-pointers by White and UMBC gave the Retrievers the distance they needed.
UMaine freshman Liz Wood came out motivated in the second half, compiling 17 of her 19 points in the second frame to go along with 12 rebounds — seven on the offensive end.
“I moved out to the arc in the second half. I like to post up smaller guards, but I don’t like to play in the post,” Wood said. “So we took that advantage that I had and, after I got a few easy baskets, I hit a groove.”
Courtney Anderson of Greene chipped in with 10 points and six assists for the Bears.
A late run by UMaine kept it interesting, but UMBC was able to hold off the Black Bears.
“We missed several easy shots around the basket,” Barron said. “We missed three right on one possession. I felt like this was a game that we needed to be at the free-throw line more than they were.”
The Black Bears went 13 for 16 from the charity stripe, while UMBC converted 18 of 24 free throws.
The game was played at a much faster pace than the two teams’ last meeting in early January, where UMBC won 54-50. The Black Bears scored one fewer point in Saturday’s second half than they did in the entire previous match.
“It’s about adjusting to play against a zone and making shots early,” Stern said of the pace. “When you do that, you don’t have to run a lot of offense and it speeds up the game a little bit.”
The Black Bears next hit the court against Albany at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alfond Arena.