The University of Maine women’s basketball team has been a slow-starting club this season, especially in recent games.
But the Black Bears, who scored single digits in the first period in five of their last six games, erupted for 28 first-quarter points en route to a comfortable 65-44 victory over winless Hartford at Chase Arena in West Hartford, Connecticut, on Wednesday night.
UMaine improved to 5-8 overall and 2-1 in America East, while Hartford fell to 0-13, 0-2.
It was UMaine’s seventh straight win over Hartford with four of them coming in West Hartford.
Hartford’s Board of Regents voted in May to drop its athletic programs from Division I to Division III by 2025, although scholarships will be honored. There are no athletic scholarships in NCAA Division III.
UMaine took a foothold in the game over the last 4:13 of the first period, outscoring the Hawks 18-5 to build a 28-14 lead.
Junior guard Anne Simon scored eight of the points including a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the period. Sophomore point guard Alba Orois had five points and three assists during the run.
UMaine shot a blistering 78.6 percent from the floor (11 for 14) including a 71.4 percent showing (5 for 7) behind the 3-point arc.
“It was nice to see shots go in and to get off to a good start,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon to Learfield Sports/Black Bear Sports Properties/The Ticket play-by-play man Don Shields after the game.
The Hawks battled back to within nine in the third quarter but the Black Bears closed out the period with a 16-5 spurt behind sophomore forward Caroline Bornemann’s seven points to take a 52-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
Orois paced the Black Bears with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 37 minutes. Simon and Bornemann each had 13 points with Simon also contributing six rebounds, six assists and three steals and Bornemann chipping in with seven rebounds and two assists.
Simon had now scored in double figures in six straight games and in 12 of UMaine’s 13 contests while Orois and Bornemann reached double figures for the third time over the past four games.
Orois had no turnovers for the third time over the past five games.
Graduate student forward Maeve Carroll produced 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Sophomore guard Olivia Rockwood hit a pair of threes and Abbe Laurence and Adrianna Smith teamed up for nine rebounds and four points.
“It was nice to see different kids step up and hit shots,” Vachon said.
Sophomore forward Paula Maurina’s 11 points and four rebounds paced Hartford. Junior guard-forward Carmen Villalobos had 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Abby Streeter scored seven points and Jada Lucas had five.
Brianna Williams netted four points and five rebounds for the Hawks and Najla Cecunjanin registered four rebounds and three assists.
UMaine outrebounded Hartford 43-31 and had a 26-5 edge in points off turnovers.
UMaine shot 40.3 percent from the floor (27 for 67) and 32.1 percent beyond the 3-point arc (9 for 28) while Hartford shot 37.5 percent (18 for 48) and 22.7 percent (5 for 22), respectively.
UMaine will host Stony Brook (10-2, 1-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor in a rematch of last year’s America East tournament championship game won by Stony Brook 64-60 at the Memorial Gymnasium in Orono.
Hartford will visit Vermont (7-6, 1-1) on Sunday at 2 p.m.