BANGOR — It was quite the opening act for the University of Maine women’s basketball team Saturday afternoon.

The Black Bears trailed only once and rolled past Toledo 73-59 before a crowd of 1,578 at Cross Insurance Center. Blanca Millan led the way with 18 points, but this was a game that put all of Maine’s talents on display.

The Black Bears hit 44 percent of their shots, including 13 3-pointers, had assists on 16 of their 28 baskets, forced 14 turnovers and responded every time the Rockets challenged them. Maine’s lead peaked at 27 before Toledo scored the final 13 points.

“I think it’s a really solid win for our team and our program,” said Coach Amy Vachon. “We talked a lot, at the end of last year, of winning the games that we need to win, and Toledo is one of them … That’s a really good team.

“So I think in general, just coming out and playing a team like that and playing well together is really good for us.”

Millan added six rebounds and a team-high six assists. Parise Rossignol and Dor Saar each scored 15 – Rossignol’s all coming on 3-pointers – and Fanny Wadling added 11 with a team-high seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

“Overall everyone did a good job,” said Millan, who scored nine consecutive points late in the third quarter to turn back the last Toledo threat. “We started the game really good but all the kids who came off the bench did a really good job too. So you can see everyone stepping up.”

It started early. With Maine trailing 4-2, Rossignol – the former Van Buren High standout – hit 3-pointers on three consecutive Maine possessions to push the Black Bears into an 11-4 lead. Toledo would not get closer than three points the rest of the way as Maine’s man-to-man defense harassed the Rockets all over the court.

“I thought Parise started us off really well, hitting those shots,” said Vachon. “And the defensive intensity was key in that first half. “

Toledo, behind Kaayla McIntyre (game-high 24 points) kept coming back. But different players kept stepping up for the Black Bears. At the end of the second quarter it was Maddy McVicar with a drive to beat the buzzer and make it 43-28 at the half.

And then in the third it was Millan. Toledo had pulled within 50-38 when Millan scored nine consecutive points. First it was a power drive on the right, then an NBA-distance 3-pointer from the key, then two foul shots, then a steal and layup. That gave Maine a 59-38 lead and, for all intents, the game.

“I knew we didn’t score in a long time and Coach Amy called a play for me, so I knew I had to score,” said Millan of the first basket.

“It’s easier for me if I follow what they say.”

Of her 3-pointer? “I’m not usually that far away, but I knew she was sagging off,” said Millan. “And I just took it.”

Toledo Coach Tricia Cullop certainly came away impressed, with both Millan and the Black Bears.

“We knew coming in that Maine was a very good team,” she said. “I was disappointed with some of the things we did but it doesn’t overshadow the fact that they’re a great team. I told Amy after the game that if they continue to shoot the ball like that, look out, the sky’s the limit for this team.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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