Maine’s Adrianna Smith defends a shot by Stony Brook’s Anastasia Warren during a game in Bangor on Jan. 9, 2022. Smith averaged only seven minutes a game as a freshman last winter, but this season leads the Black Bears in scoring, rebounds and assists. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Adrianna Smith can’t pinpoint exactly when things started to click for her, but the 6-foot sophomore forward on the University of Maine women’s basketball team knows she’s playing the best basketball of her short collegiate career.

Adrianna Smith

On Jan. 4, Smith scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Maine’s 70-63 win over UMass-Lowell. She followed that with 34 points and 10 boards in Saturday’s 69-63 win at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Smith set career highs in points, minutes, field goals, and field goals made in the win at NJIT, and recorded a double-double for the fifth time in six games.

“I feel like I’ve gotten really comfortable in the offense,” said Smith, who grew up in Reston, Virginia.

Following her back-to-back 30-point games, Smith was named America East Player of the Week on Monday. The win over NJIT improved the Black Bears to 3-0 in America East Conference games. Maine (7-8 overall) was scheduled to play at the University of New Hampshire on Wednesday night, but the game was postponed until Feb. 13 due to COVID issues at UNH.

Over her current six-game hot streak, Smith has raised her scoring average from 8.4 points per game to 14.1. Since shooting 0 for 7 in a 20-point loss to Rhode Island on Dec. 4, Smith has shot 58.9% from the floor, raising her season shooting percentage from .420 to .518. As Smith heated up, so did the Black Bears, going 4-2 over their last six games.

On the season, Smith leads the Black Bears in scoring, rebounds (8.4 rebounds per game) and assists (3.8).


“I told her a couple weeks ago, ‘Man, you do so much for us,'” said Maine Coach Amy Vachon. “She’s had a great all-around season. She’s getting better and better.”

For Smith, improving offensively wasn’t about tweaking her shot. Rather, it was learning when to take it, and when to kick the ball outside to a teammate who has a better one. Even at 6 feet, Smith is often undersized when playing in the low post.

“A lot of our offense is timing. Sometimes I have a tendency to go too fast too much,” Smith said. “I’m slowing things down.”

Smith saw action in 30 games last season, averaging two points and two rebounds in just over seven minutes per game. The graduation of forward Maeve Carroll opened a spot in the starting frontcourt, and Smith stepped in. Vachon praised Smith’s basketball IQ as a reason for her dramatic improvement this season. That’s helped Smith play in control. While 10th on the team in minutes played last season, Smith was fifth in fouls. Staying out of foul trouble this season has allowed her to do more with her increased playing time.

“She’s a very smart basketball player. She’s learning how to get defenders up in the air before she shoots,” Vachon said.

Because of the pandemic, Smith was never able to make an official visit to Maine. She and her mother did visit campus, but restrictions prohibited Vachon and the coaches from meeting with her. Smith relied on Zoom calls with Vachon, and the endorsement of Katie White, her former teammate on the Fairfax Stars AAU team who played for the Black Bears. White chose to end her playing career last fall because of lingering injuries, but is still listed on Maine’s roster.


“I loved the coaches and figured it would be a good fit for me,” said Smith, who also was rehabbing from a torn ACL during the recruiting process.

While Smith couldn’t visit Maine, Vachon and her staff couldn’t visit her, either. They relied on game tape and the recommendation of Fairfax Stars coaches in evaluating Smith.

“We never watched her play live when we were recruiting her,” Vachon said.

This season, Smith has eight double-doubles and started each of Maine’s first 15 games. Smith said she’s working on adding a mid-range jumper. Smith is 1 for 4 on the season from 3-point range, but admits the one make, which came in Maine’s America East opener against Bryant last month, was the result of a pick and roll executed as the shot clock approached zero.

“A mid-range jumper, I feel like that would open up a lot for me,” Smith said.

Vachon just wants to see Smith continue her consistent play.

“Scoring 30, 34 point a game, I’d love for it to happen, but I don’t think it’s sustainable. Being able to play against bigger players is going to be the key for her development,” Vachon said.

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