December 12, 2013

UMaine women can’t turn the corner

Turnovers doom the Black Bears in an overtime loss to Hartford, 66-56.

By Mark Emmert memmert@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BANGOR — The Maine women’s basketball team had the chance to turn a corner Wednesday night.

Instead they just turned it over. Repeatedly.

Hartford walked out of the Cross Insurance Center with a 66-56 overtime victory to extend its winning streak against the Black Bears to a remarkable 18 games. And it happened because the Hawks were much more determined to hang onto the basketball than Maine was.

Maine had a 39-30 lead midway through the second half and appeared poised to win its first America East Conference opener in six years. They never appeared to be poised again.

Maine committed 10 turnovers in the next 8 minutes as Hartford (2-8, 1-0 America East) went on a 16-4 run and took control. The Black Bears forced the game into overtime when Mikaela Gustafsson made two free throws with 7.6 seconds left. But Hartford dominated the extra session, led by 18 points from freshman Deanna Mayza.

“Some of the turnovers were just baffling,” Maine Coach Richard Barron said. “They were self-inflicted.”

Hartford was the team that couldn’t protect the basketball in the first half, turning it over 13 times in falling behind 28-22. But the Hawks had just five turnovers after intermission while Maine ended up with 27. As a result the Black Bears (5-4, 0-1) were able to take only 48 shots while failing to establish any offensive flow.

“There were some travels that we got called late with faking at them and getting back. There were deflections with guys just being active. There was a toughness there that we haven’t seen,” Hartford Coach Jennifer Rizzotti said after her team snapped a seven-game losing streak.

“Sometimes it helps when you’re winning to have a little bit extra oomph.”

Maine got 12 points each from Gustafsson and Liz Wood, and Ashleigh Roberts added 11. But each of those players also contributed six turnovers. Hartford scored 23 points off Maine miscues.

“We didn’t do anything well the entire game,” Barron lamented.

“The turnovers, the fouls, the rebounding, the physical effort, hustle, execution, decision-making, the mental and physical toughness. All of those things were disappointing and subpar. And the coaching; I’m disappointed in myself.”

One sequence in overtime told the story. Hartford was leading 60-56 when it got four shots on a single possession lasting 73 seconds. Three times the Hawks grabbed offensive rebounds to keep the ball before Alyssa Reaves finally made a layup.

“I understand that when you’re 1-8 and all of the sudden you get to start your season over with a conference game, how exciting that can be,” Barron said.

“This was a game where I felt like we could have done some things correctly in the first half to put them away and we didn’t. We let them hang around. ... I thought just in terms of physical energy and physical effort, they deserved to win the game.”

Mark Emmert can be reached at 791-6424 or at:

memmert@pressherald.com

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH

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