ORONO, Maine -- The University of Maine women's basketball team (5-3) opens America East league action on Wednesday evening against the Hartford Hawks (1-8).
A LOOK AT THE BLACK BEARS...
Maine (5-3) is off to one of its best starts in recent memory and have already surpassed last season's win total. The Black Bears, who last started a season with five wins in their first eight games in 2006, look to start 1-0 in league play for the first time since 2007-08. Maine is 2-2 in its last four contests and is coming off a split weekend at Brown University's Brown Classic. Maine opened the tournament with a thrilling 60-59 win over Brown before dropping the championship game to Fairfield, 80-59. Ashleigh Roberts averaged 17 points and 5.5 rebounds in the tournament as she and Liz Wood each earned All-Tournament team accolades.
The Black Bears are led by senior Ashleigh Roberts who is averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. Roberts, who ranks second in the league in scoring, has tallied double-figure scoring efforts in each of the first eight games. Roberts is shooting a team-high 55.6% from the field, good for third highest in the league. Roberts is assisted by Liz Wood who is chipping in 12.1 points and leads the Black Bears in rebounding (7.4) and assists (3.5). Wood's 7.4 rebounds ranks her in the top five in the conference. Sophie Weckstrom has given Maine a punch off the bench as she is averaging 5.9 points and 2.4 assists. Weckstrom has hit 11 three-pointers so far and is shooting 35.5% from beyond the three-point arc. Freshman point guard Sigi Koizar enter's the contest at 50.0% from the field with 5.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
As a team, Maine is averaging 62.6 points per game. The Black Bears rank second in the league in shooting (42.6) and tops in three-point percentage (35.7), as they are averaging a league-high 7.6 three-pointers per game. The Black Bears average 33.9 rebounds per game and rank second in the conference in assists (15.8).
The Hawks enter Wednesday evening at 1-8 overall and are currently riding a seven-game losing skid. Hartford's lone win came back on Nov. 14 when it defeated Loyola Maryland 59-53. Junior guard Amber Bepko leads the Hawks with 9.0 points per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds and a team-high 32.7-percent mark from three-point range. Freshman Deanna Mayza controls the offense for Hartford, dishing out a team-high 2.3 assists with 8.1 points. Mayza has gone 27-for-29 (93.1-percent) from the free throw ling. Fellow freshman Morgan Lumb is adding 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds while junior Cherelle Moore is adding 6.9 points and a team-high 4.6 rebounds.
Hartford averages 49.2 points per game and gives up 68.6; a difference of -19.3 points. The Hawks, who are shooting 33.4-percent from the floor and 29.3-percent from three-point range, enter the contest averaging 19.1 turnovers per game. Hartford is being outrebounded 41.1-32.8 (-8.3 margin).
Maine and Hartford will be meeting for the 63rd time in history with Maine holding a 37-25 advantage in the series. Maine's last win against the Hawks came on Feb. 19, 2005; a 56-51 win at Hartford. The Black Bears last beat Hartford at home on Feb. 4, 2004 by a score of 54-52. Hartford currently has a 17-game win streak over the Black Bears. Last time out, the Hawks defeated Maine 82-56. Last time the two met in Maine, Hartford won 52-37. The Black Bears took the first ever meeting between the two programs by a score of 71-53 on Jan. 13, 1986.
MAINE'S LAST GAME
Fairfield 80, Maine 59 -- Bangor, ME -- Cross Insurance Center - Dec. 8, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The University of Maine women's basketball team (5-3) dropped an 80-59 decision to Fairfield in the championship of the Brown Classic on Sunday afternoon. Ashleigh Roberts (Wilmington, Del.) led Maine with 19 points, her eighth-straight game scoring in double-figures, while Liz Wood (Catlett, Va.) added 12 points and nine rebounds.
For the efforts over the weekend, both Roberts and Wood were honored to the Brown Classic All-Tournament team.
Trailing by one midway through the first half Sophie Weckstrom (Espoo, Finland) knocked down a three which was followed by a layup from Wood to give the Black Bears an 18-14 lead.
The Stags battled back to knot the score for the fifth time in the half before Chantel Charles (London, UK) and Lauren Bodine (Louisville, Ky.) knocked down a pair of three pointers. After a Fairfield make, Sigi Koizar (Vienna, Austria) found Wood for another Black Bear three-pointer, giving Maine a five point edge.
Fairfield answered the Maine rally, fighting back to take a 30-29 lead with five minutes to play. The Stags added seven unanswered points to their run to stretch the lead to 37-29. Courtney Anderson (Greene, Maine) ended the run by knocking down a three-pointer, cutting the Stags lead to five, at the half.
Fairfield built another 7-0 run early in the second half to stretch its lead out to 13, keyed by back-to-back hoops from Brittany Obi-Tabot.
Mikaela Gustafsson (Sodertalje, Sweden) found Bodine for a three-pointer to put an end to the Fairfield run. Gustafsson kept the assists rolling, finding Roberts for a layup on Maine's next possession to cut the Stags' lead to eight.
After a Charles three made it a 10 point Stags lead, Fairfield went on an 11-2 run, stretching its lead out to 71-52 with just over five minutes remaining.
The Black Bears would keep battling but could not chip away at the deficit, dropping the contest 80-59.
MARGIN OF DEFEAT...
On Nov. 29, in the opening round of the "Black Bear Thanksgiving Tournament", Maine defeated UMass by a score of 86-56. Maine's 86 points were the most scored since posting 87 in a win against Stephen F. Austin in 2009. The 30-point win is Maine's largest margin of victory since it defeated Kennesaw State 88-56 in 2005, also in the Black Bears' November tournament.
EARLY DECEMBER CONFERENCE MATCHUP..
The Black Bears will be playing a rare December conference matchup with Hartford. Maine is 6-2 in Decmeber conference games. Maine's last December Conference Games were in December 2000 and included a loss at Boston University, a win over Towson and a loss to Delaware - all of which are currently no longer America East member institutions.
December 1999 ... Wins over Northeastern and Boston University
December 1997 ... Win at Vermont
December 1995 ... Wins at Northeastern and Boston University
GOOD WORKS WOOD...
On Dec. 3, was been named one of 84 nominees to the 2014 Allstate Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Good Works Team®, as announced by the WBCA and Allstate Insurance Company on Tuesday afternoon. The award looks beyond on the court accolades and honors those student-athletes who have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteering and civil service.
When looking at the list of America East leaders, Maine ranks in the top two in three categories. Maine leads the league in three point percentage (35.7) and three-pointers made (7.6) while ranking second in field goal percentage (42.6).
roberts 900/400 club...
In Maine's "Black Bear Thanksgiving Tournament", Ashleigh Roberts became the newest member of the women's basketball 900 point/400 rebound club.
BEST START IN 20+ YEARS...
The Black Bears started the year at 3-0 for the first time since 1989 when it finished the season 23-7 and 11-1 in NAC play under head coach Trish Roberts.Maine defeated North Dakota St. in its season opener, and first ever contest at the new Cross Insurance Center, 64-59. The win was Maine's first season opening win since it defeated Central Conn. St. at Alfond Arena 61-58 in 2009. Maine is now 29-21 all-time in season opener's.
ROBERTS 1,000 POINTS...
Senior guard Ashleigh Roberts is closing in on the 1,000 point mark. Roberts currently stands just 64 points from 1,000 in her career. If she reaches the mark, she would become just the 17th player ever to reach the mark. Roberts currently stands 116 points away from Lisa Cormier for 16th in all-time scoring at Maine.
DOING WORK IN THE PAINT...
A year after taking the most three-point attempts in school-history, Maine has done a good job getting the ball down low, working the offensive boards and scoring in the paint. Maine has scored a total of 214 points out of 501 in the paint this season. Maine's 38 points in the paint at Brown was its highest of the season.
LARGE MARGIN OF VICTORY...
Maine's most recent win was a 66-50 win on the road over Long Island University-Brooklyn. In the last six years, Maine has only defeated four Division-I teams by 16 or more points, and only once done so on the road. (1/26/13 - +16 over Stony Brook, 1/3/10 +16 at UMass, 1/4/07 +17 over New Hampshire and 11/11/06 +20 over William and Mary). In an updated note, the Black Bears defeated UMass on Nov. 29 by 30 points.
LIMITING THE MISTAKES...
In the win over Bryant on Nov. 16, 2013, the Black Bears committed just seven turnovers. It was the first time Maine had committed under 10 turnovers in a game since having nine turnovers against Hartford on Feb. 27, 2007. The last time Maine had less than seven turnovers in a game was Nov. 27, 2004 when it turned the ball over just six times against Saint Joseph's.
Maine has received solid scoring production off its bench thus far. 34.9% (175/501 of Maine's scoring has come from its bench so far. Maine's bench totaled 50 points, out of 74, in the win over Bryant. Maine is 4-2 when its bench outscores the opposition. Maine's bench has outscored its opponents bench in six of the first eight games.
SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT...
The Black Bears shot 54.0% (27-for-50) from the floor in their win over Bryant. It was the first time Maine shot over 50% from the field since going 23-for-44 (52.3%) in a win at Rhode Island on Nov. 13, 2011. The 54% mark was the highest since Maine went 27-for-48 (56.3%) in a loss at Holy Cross on Jan. 2, 2009.
The Black Bears will welcome two to their squad in the fall of 2014. Kirsten Johnson (San Diego, CA/Academy of Our Lady of Peace) and Janessa Fauntroy (Gaithersburg, MD/Gaithersburg) will join the Black Bears in the fall of 2014. Johnson (6'2" forward) recorded 1,081 points and 770 rebounds in her first three years of high school while most recently leading her team to a 23-10 mark and a CIF Division III championship. Fauntroy (6-foot small forward) averaged 13.0 points and 15.0 rebounds while shooting 60% from the floor. Fauntroy led her 2011-12 team to a 27-0 record and a Maryland 4A State Championship.
The University of Maine women's basketball team was selected to finish sixth in the 2013-14 America East Preseason Coaches Poll. The Black Bears received 27 total votes in the poll. Defending America East Champion Albany was selected as the preseason favorite as the Great Danes received 64 total votes and eight first-place tallies. The Great Danes were followed in the poll by Hartford who notched 54 votes. Stony Brook was selected third with 48 total votes while New Hampshire was picked fourth with 46 votes and one first place tally. The Vermont Catamounts were fifth in the preseason poll with 30 votes followed by Maine at 27 tallies. The Black Bears were followed by UMBC at 24 votes and Binghamton with 23 nods. UMass Lowell, new to the America East conference this season, rounded out the field with eight votes.
LIZ WOOD, CO-ROOKIE OF THE YEAR..
Wood, who led all America East Rookies in scoring and rebounding throughout the 2012-13 season, was also named to the 2012-13 America East All-Rookie team.
Wood, a six-time America East Rookie of the Week, averaged 10.3 points and 6.6 rebounds during the season. Wood led the Black Bears in assists (2.4) and steals (1.5) while shooting 35.5% from the field and 27.5% from beyond the arc. The freshman guard/forward combo ranked 14th in the league in scoring and seventh in rebounding. In America East action, Wood ranked fourth in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (7.3) while averaging 2.0 steals, seventh best among conference play leaders. Wood tallied double-figures in scoring in 11 of her 15 America East contests. The freshman poured in a career-high 22 points at Vermont before matching her career-high point total with 22 at Binghamton to go along with 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Wood scored in double-figures in her final five games of the season.
Wood is the first Black Bear to be named America East Rookie of the Year since Monica Peterson received the honor in 2002. Wood is only the sixth ever to win the award at Maine.
650 AND COUNTING...
Maine's win over North Dakota St. was a milestone in a couple different ways. It was the 650th victory in the history of women's basketball and also the first win for the Black Bears at their new home, the Cross Insurance Center.
BODINE, FOR THREE!...
Freshman Lauren Bodine recent went 7-for-9 from three-point range in Maine's game against Vermont on Feb. 20,2013. The seven threes tied the school-record for most three-pointers made in a single game. Tanna Ross was the last, and only other, Black Bear to hit seven threes in a game as she did so on Dec. 1, 2010 at Kansas. Bodine notched a career-high 24 points in the game and was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half.
To Maine - To Austria - and Back to Maine
Maine freshman Sigi Koizar already has some experience playing basketball in Maine. Koizar spent a year in Maine under the American Field Service (AFS) student-exchange program as she attended Stearns High School in Millinocket, Maine in 2011-12. While at Stearns, Koizar helped lead the Minutemen to a runner-up finish in the 2012 Eastern Maine Class C Championship.
A year after being the youngest team, in terms of experience, in Division-I, Maine will have to look upon its underclassmen once again. Nine of Maine's 13 players are underclassmen with seven sophomore student-athletes and a pair of freshmen.
RAINING FROM LONG RANGE IN 2012-13...
The Black Bears attempted 560 three-point field goals in 2012-13, the most they have ever thrown up in a season. The old mark of 475 attempts was set in 2003-04. Maine's three-point highlight on the season came when Lauren Bodine tied the school-record for three-pointers made in a single game (7 at Vermont 2/20/13).
NEVER BEFORE PLAYED OPPONENTS...
The Black Bears will be seeing some opponents for the first time in school history this season. Maine will start things off with its first ever meeting with North Dakota State and its first ever time playing a team from the Summit League. Maine will also see Wisconsin Green Bay for the first time as well as Sacred Heart. Maine will also play in tournaments with William and Mary and Morgan St., both teams it has never played. UMass Lowell will be joining the America East this season, another team Maine has no history against.
ALL AROUND THE MAP AND ENDING AT ORONO
The Black Bears have a bit of an international feel this season as six of its 13 players are from overseas. Maine welcomes players this season from Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, Serbia and Finland and Austria.
WELCOME COACH SMITH
The Black Bears welcome in assistant coach Sean Smith to this year's squad. Smith, a 2005 graduate of Rutgers, joins the staff with a wealth of individual skill experience. Smith was the lead skills trainer with Peach State Basketball since 2009. While with Peach State Basketball, Smith coordinated all individual skill developments during EBA camps and showcases. Smith, formerly from Eastampton, N.J., served as an individual trainer to over 100 athletes nationwide through Peach State Basketball and later expanded his roll by starting his own skill development company "ATG Hoops" in the New Jersey area where he trained players up and down the eastern seaboard. Smith's company hosted four showcase events annually including the ATG showcase which garnered talents from seven states. Smith worked Princeton basketball camps for Coach Barron when Barron was the head coach with the Tigers.