BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine women’s basketball team blew out UMass Lowell on Wednesday night.

The Black Bears cruised to their 13th straight win on their home court at the Cross Insurance Center with another well-rounded performance that featured a career-high 19 points from senior forward Bella Swan.

Swan’s second consecutive game as UMaine’s leading scorer appears to provide further evidence that this team isn’t going to have to rely on one or two players to sustain its offensive success.

“We feel like we’re deep. We feel like we’ve got a lot of people who can play,” said head coach Richard Barron, whose attention is focused on Saturday’s key America East road game against four-time defending league champion Albany.

Unquestionably, it is defense that has set the tone for UMaine’s 12-6 record (3-0 AE). The Black Bears continue to find shooters and clog the middle with their 2-3 matchup zone, but are good in player-to-player and have unveiled a 1-3-1 zone.

That said, UMaine appears to be developing a more balanced offensive attack. Most recently, Swan has joined the party.

“Bella’s playing as well as she’s ever played here,” Barron said.

Junior guard Sigi Koizar, who has emerged as UMaine’s top scorer this season, ranks fourth in the conference at 16.7 points per game. She has supplanted senior guard/forward Liz Wood (8.8 ppg), who continues to serve as the Black Bears’ leader in rebounds (7.6 rpg) and steals (2.6 spg).

Senior post player Mikaela Gustafsson (9.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg) also has stepped up her play, and senior guard Sophie Weckstrom (7.5 ppg) continues to provide a steady presence along with senior guards Chantel Charles and Lauren Bodine.

Wood, a three-time, all-conference performer who was last season’s AE co-defensive player of the year, has seen her scoring average go down by five points through 18 games.

And UMaine has not missed a beat.

“That’s going to happen with the emergence of other offensive threats,” Barron said of Wood’s scoring. “We’re a harder team to guard, we’re a harder team to scout, as a result.

“As people take away Liz, somebody like Mikaela or Bella is going to step up,” he added.

Wood, who is averaging two fewer shots per game than a year ago, attempted only three against UMass Lowell. She finished with only four points, but contributed four steals, three rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes.

Swan said that Wood’s contributions extend well-beyond how many points she scores.

“She helps not only on offense, but defensively she brings a lot of energy,” Swan said.

“She doesn’t always have to score the ball, we don’t always have to go to Liz, because we all can score,” she added. “I think that takes a lot of pressure off of her, and it’s nice to have other people that can score as well.”

Steelman hits a high note

Todd Steelman has entertained UMaine women’s basketball fans with his melodic renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

On Wednesday night, the Black Bears’ associate head coach expanded his repertoire by singing the Swedish national anthem.

Before home games, UMaine is recognizing its international seniors by displaying their country’s flag inside the arena and playing their anthem.

“It was just amazing for me to have him sing that,” said Gustafsson, whom Steelman had approached two days earlier about the possibility of singing the Swedish anthem.

“I was a little bit skeptical to it, honestly, because it’s hard to pronounce,” said Gustafsson, who sent him a YouTube link to the song to help him learn it.

“Then he called me [Tuesday] and sang it to me. He did it in 24 hours, and I was amazed how it came out. It was really good,” she added.

Pressure is ‘squarely on Albany’

The Black Bears are looking forward to the opportunity to take on front-running UAlbany (12-3, 3-0 AE), which is again the team to beat in America East.

Tip-off is scheduled for noon.

“It’s always a fun game. It’s always a hard game, a tough game, going there to play, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to,” Gustafsson said.

Barron, whose team has started slowly each of the last two games, pointed out that UMaine beat UAlbany on its home court last season.

“We’re going to play the best team in the league,” he said. “I think all the pressure’s squarely on Albany because it’s their home game.”

Barron quickly conceded the Great Danes are an outstanding team, describing two-time AE player of the year Shereesha Richards, all-conference guard Imani Tate and Zakiya Saunders as “a three-headed monster.”

“We’re not taking anything for granted going in there, but we know that we can compete with them and we’re not intimidated by them in the least,” he added.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...