Husson University’s Bailey Donovan didn’t know what to expect when she took the court for Friday’s season-opening basketball game against the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore, a former Hampden Academy star, had observed that UMPI had four players who stand 5-11 or taller.
“I was a little bit nervous. I haven’t had to deal with teams that had [that much size]. I wasn’t super confident going into the game,” admitted last season’s North Atlantic Conference and Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Rookie of the Year.
“But once I got that first basket, the nerves were gone and I was ready to play,” Donovan said.
She responded by becoming the first Husson women’s player ever to score at least 30 points and grab 20 or more rebounds in a game, racking up 34 points and 20 boards in the Eagles’ 74-50 triumph.
She shot 12-for-17 from the floor, 10-for-11 from the free throw line and also contributed two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
“I didn’t even know what my stats were. That wasn’t my main focus,” Donovan said. “I was just having a good time with my teammates. We were all moving the ball well.”
Donovan averaged 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds last winter in leading Husson to a fifth straight North Atlantic Conference tournament title and NCAA Division III tournament berth where it lost to SUNY New Paltz.
Her 64.5 shooting percentage led all Division III scorers.
“She has improved her footwork in the post. Her moves are smoother,” said Husson coach Kissy Walker. “She has learned how to kick the ball out. She also has a beautiful outside shot.”
Donovan’s improved footword also has helped her on the defensive end and she has expanded her shooting range.
“I’d love to be able to step out and hit outside shots,” she said, noting that it helps open up space in the paint for her teammates.
The 2019 Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl Basketball second-team selection is developing her ballhandling skills in the hope of becoming a threat to drive from the foul line to the basket.
Husson is playing an abbreviated schedule due to the COVD-19 pandemic, but Donovan hopes the Eagles can develop a cohesiveness and comfort level to take into next season.
Two players who will be feeding her the ball next season are Sophie McVicar of Calais and Roxanne Sasse, two guards who have committed to Husson.
Sasse is from the Topsham area but is attending the Department of Defense High School in Naples, Italy.
McVicar, the sister of former University of Maine guard Maddy McVicar, has averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists during her career with the Blue Devils. She is a career 100-goal scorer and all-conference performer in soccer and competes in softball and cross country.
“She is a very skilled point guard who will make an immediate impact,” Walker said. “She can shoot and dribble and she passes the ball well. She plays for Jody Grant’s AAU team and has done very well against real good competition.”
Sasse was the Most Valuable Player in the Division II European basketball championships last year and is a three-time All-European first-team pick.
“Roxanne is 5-foot-8 and is the type of player who plays at the top of the press and gets her hands on a lot of passes. She is very comfortable as a ballhandler and is very smart,” Walker said.