ORONO — This has been a season of growth for University of Maine sophomore point guard Alba Orois.

This is her first season starting and leading the Black Bears’ offense, her first season filling the shoes of the departed Dor Saar, one of the finest point guards in team history.

Orois showed how much she’s improved on Tuesday night and offered a packed house at Memorial Gym, also known as the Pit, a glimpse of things to come.

Orois scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting  to lead the Black Bears to a 72-48 win over New Jersey Institute of Technology in the America East semifinals.

“She plays both sides of the ball so well,” Maine Coach Amy Vachon said of Orois.

With the win, Maine’s 14th straight, the Black Bears earned a spot in the conference championship game for the seventh consecutive season (the 2020 final was canceled. Maine (20-10) will host Albany at Memorial Gym at 5 p.m. Friday in a game televised on ESPNU. NJIT ends the season at 15-15.


NJIT played without starting point guard Lyzi Litwinko, who was out with an injury. Orois was there whenever needed. Along with her 20 points, Orois had seven assists, two steals and no turnovers.

When Maine needed a big shot, it was Orois taking and making it. When NJIT cut Maine’s lead to 38-31 early in the third quarter, the 5-foot-7 Orois drove the lane to her left, spinning for a layup to push Maine’s lead back to nine points. Minutes later, after the Highlanders chipped Maine’s lead to 40-34, Orois drove the baseline, taking a Maeve Carroll pass for a layup and a 42-34 lead.

“In this game it was quite open,” Orois said of her drives to the basket. “Playing with Maeve (Carroll), it helps a lot. the defense has to decide where they want to go. It’s easier when you have teammates like the teammates I have.”

Orois’ layup as the third quarter expired gave Maine a 50-36 lead.

“Alba started getting to the paint, and once she starts getting to the paint, you’re at her mercy a little bit, and it didn’t go well,” said NJIT Coach Mike Lane.

Much of Maine’s offense came from its defense. The Black Bears forced 19 turnovers and outscored the Highlanders in points off turnovers, 31-5.


“I felt like defensively we really locked into what we wanted to do for the most part. We pressured them in the first half and created some turnovers,” said Vachon.

Four Black Bears scored in double digits. Carroll had 16 points to go with 10 rebounds. Caroline Boardmann had 12 points,and Anne Simon added 11. Maine had 24 assists on 29 shots made.

The Black Bears led 36-24 at the half. The Highlanders made a run in the third quarter, cutting Maine’s lead to 40-34 midway through the quarter. From there, the Black Bears closed the quarter with a 10-2 run, taking a 50-36 lead into the fourth.

The Black Bears pulled away in the fourth. Back-to-back 3s by Olivia Rockwood (nine points, all in the fourth) and Simon pushed Maine’s lead to 63-42 with 6:10 to play.

“We couldn’t get it back under our control. We did a really good job for two and a half quarters,” Lane said.

Comments are not available on this story.