BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine women’s basketball team had hoped Sunday to prove that it is among the top three or four teams in the America East Conference.
The Black Bears couldn’t make that happen.
Stony Brook University bottled up the Black Bears with tenacious man-to-man defense and found ample ways to score while taking a 65-49 victory at the Cross Insurance Center.
“It was about our energy level and our execution,” said UMaine coach Richard Barron said of his team’s subpar effort. “I think a lot of that was our mental approach to the game.”
UMaine (10-10, 4-3 AE) committed 16 turnovers, 10 in the first half, with sloppy offensive play. The Black Bears also were outrebounded 45-30 and had trouble stopping the Seawolves.
Stony Brook (15-5, 6-1 AE) provided further evidence that is going to be a legitimate challenger for first-place Albany.
“It’s inexcusable,” said UMaine senior Ashleigh Roberts. “It’s a lack of mental focus, I’d say. I think our coaches gave us a great game plan and I think it’s definitely on us that we didn’t execute the way we were supposed to.”
Chikilra Goodman paced a balanced Stony Brook squad with 12 points and six assists, while Sabre Proctor netted 11 points. Miranda Jenkins and Kori Bayne-Walker added 10 points each.
Liz Wood finished as the leading scorer for UMaine with 15 points, but 13 of those came long after the Bears’ fate had been sealed. Sophie Weckstrom and Roberts each tallied nine points.
“Our offense was just bad today,” Barron said.
The Black Bears shot only 31 percent (16-for-52) overall, and went 4-for-22 from the 3-point arc.
“They’re the top 3-point shooting team in the league and they just have so many players that can shoot 3’s,” said SBU coach Beth O’Boyle. One of them gets hot, they all get hot, so we really tried as a group to make sure we were taking that away and make them put the ball on the floor.”
UMaine could not establish any continuity against SBU’s tight defense. The Bears managed only two points over the last five minutes of the first half, when the Seawolves turned a four-point lead into a 32-20 halftime advantage.
After Weckstrom hit her third 3-pointer of the half to cut the deficit to 22-18, the visitors grabbed the momentum. Kim Hanlon made a 3 and Goodman scored a fast-break layup, but the Bears didn’t cash in on three consecutive SBU turnovers until Roberts converted a baseline drive.
However, a 3-pointer by Jessica Ogunnorin and Bayne-Walker’s runner off glass in the closing seconds pushed the lead to 12.
SBU hit four 3’s in the first half as the Bears kept the middle clogged up well much of the period.
“Our strategy was to take away what they’re good at. That was scoring on the interior, offensive boards and getting to the free-throw line,” Barron explained. “They hit a couple 3’s starting out pretty quick. That, combined with us turning the ball over and missing shots, I think, contributed to kind of a poor start.”
The Seawolves put the game out of reach during the first 5½ minutes of the second half, using an 11-3 run to extend their advantage to 47-27.
Mikaela Gustafsson (6 points, 4 rebounds) then made an 18-footer to break a UMaine drought at the 14:11 mark, but the hosts went more than nine minutes before they scored again.
“I think we’ve played teams that are more on us, their intensity and everything than Stony Brook was, but I think it was just like lack of execution,” Weckstrom said.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’ve been [shooting] in other games,” she added.
UMaine returns to the Cross Insurance Center on Wednesday to face rival New Hampshire at 7 p.m.