BANGOR — The University of Maine women’s basketball team turned in an impressive performance in their Black Bear Thanksgiving Tournament opener Friday night at the Cross Insurance Center.
Sophomore forward Liz Wood scored a career-high 24 points and also dished out five assists, both game highs, and senior guard Ashleigh Roberts contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals en route to an 86-56 victory over the University of Massachusetts.
Maine is now 4-1, matching its win total of a year ago when the Black Bears went 4-24.
UMass is 2-5.
Maine plays 5-1 Wisconsin-Green Bay, a 90-44 winner over William & Mary, in Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship game. UMass and 0-5 W&M play at noon.
Sophie Weckstrom provided 11 points and four assists off the bench and also had two steals. Courtney Anderson of Greene and Sigi Koizar chipped in with seven points each. Mikaela Gustafsson had five points, five rebounds and three assists.
UMass received 18 points from Emily Mital thanks to a 3-for-6 night from beyond the 3-point arc, and 11 points from Jasmine Harris. Rashida Timbilla had a game-high 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals to go with four points.
Maine shot 48 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (12-for-25) and did an exceptional job passing the ball and finding the open shooter. The team also was solid defensively as the Bears forced 26 turnovers and had a 38-13 edge in points off turnovers. UMaine worked cohesively on the defensive side of the ball to limit the number of open shots for the Minutewomen.
The Black Bears built a 30-18 halftime lead thanks to Wood’s 12 points and answered a 9-0 run by the Minutemen in the second half that cut the lead to 40-32 with a 20-4 run that sewed up the win.
Sophomore guard Sophie Weckstrom came off the bench to nail a pair of 3s during the decisive 20-4 flurry and Wood had five points.
“We had great ball movement especially in the second half,” said Maine coach Richard Barron. “We got off to a bit of a slow start in the second half. We knew they could come out with intensity and we turned the ball over a couple of times. But I went to the bench and they responded.
“[Weckstrom] got in the passing lane and disrupted their offense and we started rolling. Sophie gave us a real lift,” said Barron. “We moved the ball well. We made the extra pass and we really broke down their defense. And we shot the ball great.”
“We did a real good job waiting for something to open up. We didn’t take quick shots or force something that wasn’t there,” said Roberts.
Maine shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half and 55.4 percent for the game.
“Our offense allows for a lot of different people to score. I was just that person tonight,” said Wood. “I got my shot back. I had been struggling with it a little bit. I didn’t think too much tonight, I just let it fly. A lot of my baskets came about because somebody made a great cut that got me open.”
“Maine played really well,” said UMass coach Sharon Dawley. “They shot the ball real well and we didn’t get enough offense. We had two kids in double figures but a lot of our starters didn’t chip in offensively. We had a lot of defensive breakdowns. We didn’t get out on their shooters fast enough and they have some great shooters. There were phenomenal shooting 3s.”
UMass senior forward Kiara Bomben agreed, saying Maine had some exceptional shooters.
“And they did a real good job moving the ball,” said Bomben. “We needed to get our hands out quicker.”