ORONO, Maine — When Spanish guard Blanca Millan first stepped foot on the University of Maine campus in 2016, she never envisioned scoring 1,000 points for the women’s basketball team.
Her game-high 26 points in Tuesday night’s 67-60 win at Harvard University made her the 20th player in program history to reach the milestone. Millan has 1,016 points going into Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Brown University at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“I knew it was a big deal here,” Millan, who is the seventh fastest to reach the milestone, said. “But back home, it isn’t a big thing. When I came here, I wasn’t even thinking about scoring.
“But, in looking back, it is a nice thing. It shows how much I’ve improved since I’ve been here. It’s pretty cool,” Millan said.
The America East first-team, all-conference and all-defensive pick, an all-rookie selection in 2017, said she is lucky to have so many teammates who have been instrumental in her success.
“Blanca is a very special player,” fifth-year senior guard Parise Rossignol of Van Buren said. “She is so good at everything. She can shoot the ball, she plays incredible defense and she’s a great teammate.”
Millan has focused on improving her footwork so she is ready to shoot or drive to the basket every time she catches the ball.
The native of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, is averaging 18.3 points this season and ranks tied for 24th in Division I with 24 steals. Millan also has contributed 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game.
“She has had a great career,” UMaine head coach Amy Vachon said. “She has kept improving. She is always trying to be the best she can be. She’s fun to coach.”
The 6-2 Black Bears are riding a four-game winning streak with wins over North Carolina A&T and Pennsylvania at the Navy Classic, an 85-73 victory at North Carolina on Sunday and a hard-fought win at Harvard on Tuesday.
And UMaine has won those games without junior forward Fanny Wadling (concussion), the team’s leading rebounder (8.7 rpg) and No. 3 scorer (11 ppg).
One key to the Black Bears’ success has been contributions made by the reserves, including senior guard Maddy McVicar of Calais and sophomore forward Maeve Carroll, who each earned starts, and sophomore guard Kelly Fogarty.
Fogarty hit two 3-pointers in the win over North Carolina A&T and McVicar had six points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in her first career start.
Fogarty added four 3’s on 4-for-6 shooting at North Carolina and Carroll earned her first career start and responded with a game-high 11 rebounds to go with six points, three assists and three steals against the Tar Heels.
“It seems like every game, somebody different is stepping up,” Vachon said. “That’s what makes a great team. You can’t win with two, three or four players. Our second team goes up against our first team in practice every day and you get better when you play against good players.”
Carroll got another start against Harvard and had five rebounds, four assists and two points. McVicar came off the bench to score a career-high 10 points.
“With Fanny out, I knew I had to become a bigger force inside,” the 5-11 Carroll said. “Going against Fanny and Tanesha (Sutton) in practice really helps. They’re aggressive.”
McVicar said she has been trying to make better decisions and do the little things. She strives to keep her game simple and not try to do too much.
“It has been incredible to see,” Rossignol said. “We faced a lot of adversity. We’ve been on the road a lot and we’ve had some injuries. Having people step up has been huge and that will help us down the road. When we are healthy, we’ll know we can trust players coming off the bench.”
The four starters have all been highly productive during the four-game winning streak.
Millan is averaging 17.3 points, 4.3 steals, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists with five blocks and Sutton has averaged 14.5 points, 6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals. Rossignol (11 ppg, 5 rpg, 1.8 apg and 1.5 spg) and point guard Dor Saar (9.3 ppg, 6.3 apg and 3.8 rpg) also have put up good numbers.