ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine women’s basketball team played exceptional defense but shot just 26.4 percent from the floor in Friday’s 42-34 loss to Tulane University in the opening round of the Tip-Off Tournament at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Black Bears added the offensive component to their game on Saturday afternoon as sophomore guard Blanca Millan set a school record by shooting 92.3 percent from the floor (12-of-13) en route to a career-high 28 points to lead the Black Bears to a 76-51 victory over Harvard University in the consolation game.
Katie Whittier had the previous record of 91.6 percent shooting (11-for-12) from the floor in a game against North Carolina A&T on Dec. 29, 2005.
Dayton rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Tulane in the championship game 71-65 as the Flyers put five players in double figures led by All-Tournament team selection Jayla Scaife’s career-high 19 points. Alex Harris had 13 points and nine rebounds including eight of her team’s 21 offensive rebounds. Tourney Most Valuable Player JaVonna Layfield contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Tulane received 28 points from All-Tourney selection Kolby Morgan and 19 from Meredith Schulte.
In the consolation game, UMaine shot 44.4 percent from the floor (28-for-63), including a 43.3 percent showing behind the -point arc (13-for-30), while limiting Harvard to 23.7 percent (14-for-59) and 18.2 percent (4-for-22), respectively.
“The key today was we were making our shots,” said UMaine junior guard Tanesha Sutton, who had seven points, eight assists, seven rebounds three steals. “We played a great game on Friday. We got open shots but they weren’t falling. They were falling today and we were more aggressive. We were attacking the basket and that was good.”
“We knew that we were going to have a lot of open shots and that we had to make them,” said Millan, who also had five rebounds and two assists and was an All-Tourney pick. “We were ready. We had a lot of energy.”
“I really loved our defense. Today we went straight [man-to-man defense]. Friday, we switched it up, man and zone,” said UMaine interim head coach Amy Vachon. “They got after it. When you play defense like that, you give yourself an opportunity to win basketball games.
“We’ve worked really hard on defense the last two weeks, transition defense especially, and that was huge for us today,” added Vachon. “I really thought we did a fantastic job with it. I remember them having a couple open threes in transition but, other than that, we were really getting back and taking that to heart.”
“We were talking and switching and we had them kind of rattled,” Sutton added..
The Black Bears spotted Harvard an 8-3 lead but used a 12-4 run down the stretch of the first half to turn a 30-29 lead into a 42-33 advantage at the intermission.
The Black Bears scored the first nine points of the second half to expand the lead to 51-33 with Millan hitting a couple of driving layups, Parise Rossignol nailing a 3-pointer and Fanny Wadling capping the flurry with a short jumper off a Millan pass.
The 21-4 surge spanning the second and third quarters was “huge” according to Vachon.
“Everybody played well,” said sophomore guard Julie Brosseau, who had three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points. “We executed our things. And Blanca was on fire.”
Vachon pointed out that in addition to her offensive numbers, Millan also did a terrific job guarding Harvard All-Ivy League first-team selection Katie Benzan, holding her to just four points. She led the Crimson in scoring with 13.4 points per game a year ago.
Freshman point guard Dor Saar had 11 points, two assists and two rebounds for the Black Bears and didn’t turn the ball over in 27 minutes of playing time. Wadling chipped in with five points, nine rebounds and two assists.
Harvard received 10 points from All-Tourney choice Madeline Raster, eight points and five rebounds from Sydney Skinner and seven points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots from Jeannie Boehm.
UMaine avenged a 69-62 loss to the Crimson last year in Cambridge, Mass.
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