BANGOR — Midway through the second quarter Saturday night, Laia Sole put in a layup after Naira Caceres threaded a pass to her, and the Cross Insurance Center got loud.

Maine had closed to within 25-20 after trailing 15-0 against Mississippi State.

It was a triumphant moment, and it would soon be over.

Victoria Vivians hit a 3-pointer and Mississippi State shifted into a gear Maine doesn’t have.

The Bulldogs finished the half with a 21-3 run for a 46-23 halftime lead, then cruised to an 87-43 win in the championship game of Maine’s Tip-Off Tournament.

The Bulldogs (2-0), ranked No. 10 by The Associated Press, returned all their starters from a Sweet 16 team, and it showed.

“They have a style and a system that’s very difficult to play against,” Maine Coach Richard Barron said. “They certainly imposed their will on us.”

Vivians, a 6-foot-1 guard, scored all of her 26 points in the first half.

Sole and Caceres led the Black Bears with eight points apiece.

Maine trailed 6-0 before it even got the ball to the other end of the court. The Bulldogs swarmed with a press and the Black Bears weren’t ready.

Maine had six turnovers in its first eight possessions and missed two shots.

“Obviously we’re pretty quick and athletic,” Bulldogs Coach Vic Schaefer said. “Our press can wear people down … That’s what we do. We try to make you uncomfortable.”

Maine finished with 26 turnovers.

The guard duo of Sigi Koizar and Tanesha Sutton finally got Maine on track with drives and fast breaks. Maine trailed 21-12 after the first quarter, then enjoyed a spurt early in the second.

“If we could have stopped the game right there, I would have been ecstatic,” Barron said. “That was the moment where I saw what I envisioned this team being … We had gone on a 20-10 run against the No. 10 team in the country … We played about 10 minutes of basketball where we dominated.

“Over the other 30 minutes, they completely tore us apart … but for that 10 minutes we saw a little bit of what we could be.”

Koizar and Sutton got into foul trouble late in the half. The Black Bears finished the half with five freshmen on the floor.

“They’re obviously very young,” Schaefer said, “but really talented.”

Mississippi State outrebounded Maine 36-23

“They’re stronger,” said Sole, who is 6-2 going against 6-5 and 6-7 players. “It’s hard to guard these type of players. But we worked together.”

NOTES: In the consolation game, Villanova beat Purdue 58-44. … Maine plans to hold this tourney again next year. The unofficial lineup includes Dayton, Harvard and Tulane. … Maine doesn’t play at home again until Dec. 7 vs. Northeastern.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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