ORONO, Maine — Tanesha Sutton is a junior guard for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.
But she is not your typical guard as guards rarely lead their team in rebounds.
She has done so for the second straight season.
The 5-foot-10 Sutton is averaging 7.2 rebounds per game going into Friday’s 4 p.m. America East championship game against Hartford at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
That ranks fourth in the conference behind 6-1 Binghamton center Alyssa James (10 rpg), 5-11 Stony Brook forward Cheyenne Clark (9.4) and 5-11 UMass Lowell forward Kayla Gibbs (8.3).
Sutton has grabbed 217 rebounds, including 91 offensive boards, after averaging 4.8 rebounds last season.
She also is contributing 12 points, 2.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
“She’s a beast,” praised UMaine sophomore guard Blanca Millan. “She is everywhere she has to be. She really wants the ball and she goes and gets it.
“She’s a really athletic girl. No one can stop her,” added Millan.
“She’s a really hardworking player,” said sophomore forward Fanny Wadling. “She has been playing basketball for a while and she has a feeling for where the basketball is going to come down. She hunts the ball down.”
Sutton said growing up in Philadelphia and lacing up your sneakers on the playgrounds, oftentimes against guys, tends to bring out the aggression. If you aren’t aggressive, you aren’t going to get many touches on the basketball.
“I got a little aggressive from that,” admitted Sutton. “I go in there and fight for the ball.
“When the ball goes up, I find a body and anticipate where the ball is going to come off,” said Sutton. “Then I box them out.”
She said sometimes opposing players will get caught ball-watching instead of boxing out and that makes her job easier.
“I’m active and I’ll move them around,” said Sutton. “Guards can rebound. You just have to put forth the effort. You have to want it.”
Sutton has been consistent on the boards. She has grabbed at least six rebounds in 22 of UMaine’s 31 games, including the last seven.
She has had seven games with at least 10 rebounds and four others with nine.
Sutton has averaged 8.6 rebounds in her last five games.
“She’s amazing,” said freshman guard Dor Saar. “She knows how to be in the right place at the right time. She really wants the ball.”
UMaine head coach Amy Vachon said it is a case of Sutton wanting the ball more than the others.
“Rebounding is about having a lot of desire and going after it. She attacks the basketball,” said Vachon.
It could also be an important key to Friday’s game.
It is one area in which the 22-9 Black Bears have a decided edge over the 19-12 Hawks.
UMaine is averaging 36.6 rebounds, fifth best in America East, and averages 3.1 rebounds per game more than opponents to rank second in the conference.
The Hawks are last in both categories, averaging 32.9 rebounds with a rebounding margin of minus-5.4.
UMaine outrebounded Hartford 71-52 combined in its two regular-season victories over the Hawks, 59-44 in Hartford on Jan. 18 and 59-56 in Bangor on Feb. 5.
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