BANGOR — It had been eight years since Maine women’s basketball fans had seen this kind of offensive mastery from the home team, and they were eager to share their appreciation.
So as soon as the Black Bears put the finishing touches on an 86-56 victory over Massachusetts at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday, Coach Richard Barron witnessed a first – a standing ovation.
“I was really, really moved by that,” Barron said. “I don’t know when that’s happened since I’ve been here. That was pretty special.”
Maine earned the applause by forcing a season-high 26 turnovers and converting them into 38 points in the opening game of the Black Bear Thanksgiving tournament.
Sophomore Liz Wood led the charge with a career-high 24 points, breaking out of a slump that had seen her shoot just 26 percent from the field in the first four games of the season.
“I got my shot back; I’d been struggling with that a little bit,” Wood said after a 9-of-14 performance.
“I think just not thinking so much about it, just letting it flow,” she said.
Ashleigh Roberts added 18 points and Sophie Weckstrom came off the bench to score all 11 of her points in a torrid second half for the Black Bears (4-1). It was the most points scored by a Maine team since November 2005.
The Black Bears led just 30-22 early in the second half and were looking surprisingly sluggish when Weckstrom helped turn the tide. She forced some turnovers, hit a few 3-pointers, and soon her entire team was caught up in the torrent.
“We just decided at halftime to go hard,” Weckstrom said.
Maine shot 67 percent from the floor in the second half and had a season-high 22 assists. Everyone contributed, including freshman Sheraton Jones, whose late layup marked the first points of her Black Bear career.
“I think the key was definitely just moving the ball, making the reads,” Roberts said. “It’s important for us to not force things early, to work it around and something is going to open up.”
Maine faces Wisconsin-Green Bay (5-1) on Saturday in the final.
Mark Emmert can be reached at 791-6424 or at: