GORHAM — The traveling call went against the University of Southern Maine, but no growl could be heard from the end of the Huskies’ bench.

Gary Fifield would not be staring down referees Tuesday night. Instead, he was being honored.

Fifield, the former USM women’s basketball coach, returned to campus for a ceremony dedicating the court in his name.

Before the Huskies’ game against Bowdoin College – won by the Polar Bears 77-46 – USM Athletic Director Al Bean announced the newly named Fifield Court at Hill Gymnasium, as a crowd that included about 40 former players looked on.

Fifield, 62, retired after last season, his 27th with USM. He left with a 660-137 record, the sixth-winningest women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division III. His legacy also includes 21 conference titles, 26 NCAA tournament appearances and five Final Four berths.

When Fifield retired, Bean immediately looked into dedicating the court in Fifield’s name.

“I thought it was very appropriate,” Bean said.

Fifield was touched. “It’s really, really very special,” he said.

But one problem popped up. Fifield did not stay retired for long, becoming an assistant coach for Division I Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

Did he miss it that much?

“I didn’t have time to miss it,” Fifield quipped.

Fifield said he returned to coaching for a simple reason – a former player asked for help.

Appalachian State Coach Angel Elderkin, who graduated from USM in 1999, found out in September she needed to replace an assistant coach.

“She didn’t have time to search for a new assistant,” Fifield said, “so she called me and said, ‘Coach, are you bored yet?’ ”

A month later, Fifield and his wife, Mary, found themselves in North Carolina.

“Our plan had been to put our house on the market in the spring, buy something (in Maine) and something further south,” Fifield said. “This just speeded up the process.”

That Fifield is helping a former player is no surprise to Julie Plant, who played at USM from 1996-2000 and is now head coach at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“Coach, you cared for your players … you always had our backs and continued to support us even after we graduated,” Plant said to Fifield during the dedication ceremony.

Plant adjusted her team’s practice schedule – as did St. Michael’s College Coach Shannon Kynoch (USM Class of 2008) – to make the ceremony. With former and current USM players standing behind Fifield, Plant spoke of Fifield’s drive.

“You created a culture of winning. You had an expectation of excellence – which is what you tiredly worked for,” Plant said. “You prepared us. You challenged us. You believed in us. You convinced us we were the best. And we, in turn, won for you.”

Current USM coach Samantha Allen also spoke, saying she was “100 percent honored to be following (Fifield). USM and Gary Fifield go hand-in-hand.”

Allen’s team could not deliver a win.

While Fifield was enjoying a reception in his honor, Bowdoin (3-2) bolted to a 41-21 halftime lead and cruised. Abigail Kelly led the Polar Bears with 13 points. Megan Pelletier’s 13 points paced USM (2-4).

Fifield saw little of the game as he chatted with well-wishers. He would not be hanging around campus for long. Appalachian State has a game Wednesday night in South Carolina.

“I’m flying out (of Portland) at 6 a.m.,” Fifield said. “I might be able to make the shoot-around.”