ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine is vertically challenged with their post players out for the season with injuries.
Two of the Black Bears’ guards nonetheless stood tall with their play Wednesday night at Alfond Arena.
Freshman Lauren Bodine tied a school record with seven 3-pointers and sophomore Courtney Anderson of Greene logged her first career double-double to spark UMaine to a 73-63 America East women’s basketball victory over Vermont .
Bodine, from Louisville, Ky., went 7-for-9 from beyond the arc on her way to a career-best and game-high 24 points. She also had eight rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Anderson, a former Leavitt High standout, had her best game as a Black Bear with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
“Lauren, in the first half, just carried us. Her shooting was incredible,” said UMaine coach Richard Barron. “And Courtney hit some tough shots at key moments in the second half.”
UMaine (4-22, 3-10 AE) won back-to-back game for the first time since late last season, overcoming a Vermont ballclub that had much more overall height and post presence. The Bears went 11-for-29 (38 percent) from long range.
Bodine matched the single-game mark established by Tanna Ross of Newburgh during a 2010 game at Kansas.
“At the beginning all my teammates were driving and kicking out to me, so that helped me get the space that I needed then to step up and knock them down,” Bodine said. “Court [Anderson] told me at the beginning to go out and play with confidence, so I wasn’t going to let my teammates down, so I stepped up and made the shots.”
The Catamounts (8-18, 5-8 AE) pounded the ball inside often, but could not establish a consistent offensive presence. Vermont outrebounded the Bears 46-42, but the hosts grabbed a 24-19 edge in the second half.
Vermont coach Lori Gear McBride conceded UMaine’s guard-oriented lineup is a tough matchup for her team.
“We definitely felt like it was a more difficult game from a matchup standpoint than when they had [injured post players Danielle] Walczak and [Corinne] Wellington,” she said, pointing to her team’s ineffective defense.
“No matter how much you tell your players, ‘they can hit shots,’ we just didn’t get out quickly enough and they pushed the ball and we didn’t get back in transition,” McBride added.
UMaine contended with Vermont’s size by playing an active 2-3 zone defense. The Catamounts shot 33 percent from the floor and only outscored the Bears in the paint 22-20.
“We took the [outside] shooters out of the game, so then it just affected the post players that they had to make sure they contain their person,” Bodine said.
Freshman Liz Wood tallied 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists for UMaine, while Sophie Weckstrom and Chantel Charles posted three assists each.
Lauren Buschman led Vermont (8-18, 5-8 AE) with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while York’s Niki Taylor contributed 15 points and eight rebounds. Tierra Shumpert added eight points, six assists and two steals.
The Bears were down to eight healthy players for the second game in a row. The latest casualty is junior guard Ashleigh Roberts, who is sidelined again by a concussion.
UMaine surged in the middle of the second half, outscoring Vermont 17-3 during a span of 6 ½ minutes. Anderson led the charge, opening the run with a 3-pointer in transition and throwing in two lefthanded runners from the lane as the shot clock wound down.
The second of those, with 5:45 remaining, gave UMaine a 60-49 lead.
The Catamounts got a rebound basket from Taylor and a Shumpert foul shot, before Wood found the range from the perimeter and drilled 3-pointers 43 seconds apart to make it a 14-point ballgame.
“I was holding up three fingers for other people hitting 3’s,” Anderson said. “I was having a good time and I think over the past couple games we’ve built fun back into playing basketball and we’ve been smiling, having fun out on the court and just playing off each other.”
Vermont cut the deficit to seven but the Bears converted seven of 10 free throws in the final 1:32 to maintain the upper hand.
The teams traded spurts during the last 11 minutes of the first half and went to their respective locker rooms tied 32-32.
UMaine rode the hot hand of Bodine, who went 5-for-5 from beyond the 3-point arc on her way to 17 points in the first 20 minutes. Her efforts helped lessen the effects of the Catamounts’ 27-18 rebounding advantage, which included nine offensive boards.
Vermont also connected for five 3-pointers amid 32 percent floor shooting but was able to get a lot of loose rebounds that resulted in eight second-chance points. The visitors committed nine turnovers.
The Catamounts played man-to-man defense throughout, while the Bears tried to cover the defensive end with a 2-3 zone.
Vermont jumped in front 25-18 behind an 8-0 run that included three points each from Lauren Buschmann and Tierra Shumpert, but UMaine responded. Bodine buried 3-pointers 1:04 apart, then answered a Buschman 12-footer with another 3-pointer during a 12-2 run that gave the Bears a 30-27 lead.