ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine women’s basketball team was outclassed Wednesday night.
Boston University came into Alfond Arena and demonstrated its superior talent, experience and depth while cruising to an 85-54 America East victory at Alfond Arena.
The first-place Terriers (15-3, 5-0 AE) registered their 12th consecutive victory in their final trip to Orono as a member of America East. BU is leaving the league next fall to join the Patriot League and is not eligible for the AE tournament.
The way they’re playing, the Terriers may earn their way into the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection.
“I think it’s been a fun ride,” said BU coach Kelly Greenberg. “It’s not been like ‘oh my gosh, we have to win.’ They’ve been really enjoying the wins.”
Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears (1-16) continued their unprecedented struggles while suffering their 13th straight loss.
“I think we’ve had to re-define what excellence is for us,” said Barron, who conceded BU is an excellent team. “Our expectations are really low right now.
“By my standards, it wouldn’t take a perfect game to beat them, but where we are right now, absolutely [it would],” he added.
Chantell Alford, the two-time defending AE player of the year, led the Terriers with 21 points and five rebounds. Whitney Turner (7 rebounds, 4 assists) and Mo Moran (5 rebounds, 5 assists) netted 13 points each, and Rashidat Agboola contributed 11 points and eight rebounds.
UMaine was paced by freshman guard Liz Wood, who scored a career-high 14 points and completed the double-double with 10 rebounds. Junior Ashleigh Roberts tallied 10 points and sophomore Daneille Walczak provided nine points and five rebounds.
The Black Bears are trying to maintain a positive attitude and a strong work ethic amidst their protracted period of futility.
“We know that our coaches aren’t giving up on us and our teammates aren’t giving up on us, so that’s why we go hard every day, knowing what we can be in the future,” said Wood, who added two assists and two steals and did not commit a turnover.
Part of Barron’s frustration stems from the inability of the team to implement things learned in practice to game situations.
“We’ve got to keep doing it until we get it,” Roberts said. “Mentally, we have to make a breakthrough. That part’s definitely on us. We have to make that connection from practice to game.”
The Terriers made five 3-pointers in the first half, pulling UMaine out of its 2-3 zone defense into man-to-man. In the second half, BU used some post isolation and ball screens to get lots of good looks at the basket and shot 58 percent (18-for-31) from the field.
BU also showed off crisp, cohesive play in the open court.
“They scored in transition. They ran it down our throat,” Barron said. “We weren’t getting back, even after a made basket.”
The Terriers, who had built a 37-18 halftime advantage, blew the game open early in the second half. They scored the first seven points of the period to kick off a 19-4 burst that put the contest out of reach.
Agboola spearheaded the charge, converting a conventional three-point play and making two close-range baskets in the first 2:40 of the half.
The Bears responded as Wood and Roberts sandwiched a bucket from the paint and driving layup around Moran’s baseline jumper.
However, Alfond helped put the game away, scoring from the paint off an inbounds play, drilling back-to-back 3-pointers 36 seconds apart and capping the 10-0 flurry with a fast-break layup that put BU on top 56-22 with 14:51 remaining.
“If we made a mistake, they got us in the second half,” Barron said, “whether it was a loose ball or opportunities in transition.
Freshman center Anna Heise, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, played for the first time in seven games. However, she appeared compromised and played only two minutes.
Rather than retreat to the locker room for a pregame chat, Barron had his players go into the crowd and thank the fans for coming out to the game on a snowy evening.
The first half was a fast-paced, whistle-plagued affair that was controlled by the Terriers.
UMaine was whistled for 11 of the 17 fouls that were called and both Barron and Greenberg showed their frustration on the sideline.
BU went 10-for-15 from the foul line while UMaine was 4-for-4.
UMaine, which appeared to be committed to forcing a fast tempo on offense, wound up making 11 first-half turnovers that led to 14 points by the Terriers.
Barron was whistled for a technical foul at the 3:54 mark.
The Black Bears return to action Sunday at 2 p.m. with a league game against Binghamton at Memorial Gym.