WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross outscored the University of Maine 12-2 during a key, five-minute stretch of the second half Saturday afternoon, giving the Crusaders the upper hand on their way to a 79-69 women’s basketball victory at the Hart Recreation Center.
Holy Cross (4-4) outscored UMaine (1-6) 20-10 over the last 9 1/2 minutes, handing the Black Bears their fourth straight setback.
“We did a lot of really good things,” said UMaine coach Cindy Blodgett. “I thought we played really well.”
UMaine was again plagued by turnovers as it committed 25 on the afternoon. That helped nullify the Bears’ 51 percent shooting (28-for-55) and their 32-31 rebounding edge.
“We did have 25 turnovers, which really came back and hurt us a little bit,” said Blodgett.
Freshman Jaymie Druding scored from underneath to get UMaine within a point at 60-59 with 7:43 to play. Holy Cross responded by controlling the next four-plus minutes.
The Bears had a chance to take the lead, but Ashleigh Roberts missed on a drive to the basket. The Crusaders rebounded and got a 3-pointer from freshman Alex Smith, who had five on the afternoon on her way to a game-high 21 points.
Amber Smith missed a 3-pointer for UMaine and Holy Cross eventually converted after it missed two shots, but rebounded, then called timeout. Amy Lepley scored from close range to make it a six-point game.
Lepley then converted a Smith turnover with a layup and the hosts answered another UMaine miss with Whitney Fremeau’s layup that gave Holy Cross a 69-59 lead with 4:16 remaining.
“It was a combination of them scoring and taking advantage of our miscues,” she added. “It was a short stretch where we had a few things not go our way.”
Blodgett explained the Bears experienced some difficulties after making the switch from a 1-2-2 matchup zone to man-to-man defense.
The Bears were again without junior all-conference forward Samantha Wheeler, who missed her second straight game with an injury. Wheeler, a third-team, all-conference pick last season was struck in the head during practice prior to the Kansas game and has been held out to avoid risking further injury.
Wheeler is averaging 12.8 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 81 percent from the foul line.
Smith also dished out five assists for the Crusaders, who shot 48 percent from the field in beating UMaine for the fifth straight time. Fremeau netted 13 points and Lepley added 10.
Katelyn Vanderhoff was the catalyst for UMaine. She scored a career-high 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and posted four assists and two steals.
“She played really, really well for us,” Blodgett said of the sophomore combination guard.
Redshirt freshman guard Smith contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, while senior Tanna Ross added 10 points and freshman Roberts nine points and five rebounds for the Bears.
Druding added nine points and three rebounds for UMaine.
Holy Cross produced 17 points off UMaine turnovers, while the Bears converted 18 Crusader miscues into 18 points. The hosts did score 12 fast-break points to only two for UMaine.
The Bears continued to adjust its changing rotation, with freshmen forwards Druding and Greer Babbe each earning their first collegiate start on Saturday.
“I really thought the effort we gave (Saturday), minus one of our really critical players, was super encouraging,” Blodgett said.