Thursday, 14 November 2013 23:01

Black Bears Win Season Opener

BANGOR, Maine – The Black Bears took advantage of strong rebounding and timely scoring as they defeated North Dakota State, 64-59 on Thursday night at the Cross Insurance Center. Maine was led by Ashleigh Roberts (Wilmington, Del.) who led the team with 18 points while Liz Wood (Catlett, Va.) tallied her sixth career double-double. The win marks first time that head coach Richard Barron has started a season 1-0 since joining the Black Bears.

Maine controlled the offensive glass, outrebounding the Bison 16-8 on the offensive end, leading Maine to a 16-4 second chance edge.

The Black Bears also clamped down defensively holding the duo of Brooke Lemar and Bree Whatman to three second-half points after the duo combined for 20 in the first frame.

North Dakota State opened up on a 9-2 run through the under 16:00 media timeout as Marena Whittle drained two buckets to lead the offensive charge.

Anna Heise (Halle, Germany) headed the comeback as she scored six of the Black Bears 13 points to bring the score to 21-13 heading into the under 12:00 media timeout.

Roberts dashed from one end of the arc to the other as cut to the paint and laid in her first make of the evening making the score, 25-16 in favor of the Bison.

Roberts struck again several minutes later as she took a Chantel Charles (Hackney, UK) pass and maneuvered her way into the paint as she laid in another two, cutting the deficit to 10.

A Lemar trey increased the Bison lead to 35-23, giving them their largest lead of the half to that point.

It looked like Maine stole the momentum back their way as Sigi Koizar (Vienna, Austria) intercepted a pass and fed it to Roberts but Lemar stole it right back and streaked down the court for the easy lay-in to increase the score to 37-14.

Maine once again fought back with back-to-back 3-pointers by Charles and Lauren Bodine (Louisville, KY) as the duo brought the Black Bears to within seven points with just over three minutes remaining in the half.

The Maine defense buckled down not allowing a Bison point in the final five minutes of the frame as the Black Bears scored the final 10 points to finish the half down 37-34.

North Dakota State shot 51 percent from the field in the first half while the Black Bears turned it on towards the end of the half finishing the frame shooting 43 percent.

The Black Bears extended it to a 15-0 run going back to the last five minutes of the first half as Roberts and Bodine combined for five points to give the Black Bears their first lead of the game, 39-37.

North Dakota State knotted it up until a Roberts 3-pointer took the lead back again, as Maine was led 44-43.

With the lead going back and forth a visibly emotional Wood lofted up layup to give the Black Bears a 49-46 lead headed into the under 12:00 media time out.

Roberts increased the lead to 52-46 as she missed her first layup, retrieved her own shot and made good on her next chance as she increased her point total to 15.

Both the Bison and Black Bears struggled shooting in the second half as both teams went stretches without scoring.

Bodine broke a six-minute scoreless stretch for the Black Bears as she gave Maine a 55-50 lead with 4:20 left to go in the game.

Charles followed that up with a big trey of her own, with just over three minutes on the clock to give Maine a seven point lead, 59-52.

Liz Keena kept North Dakota State in the game with a layup inside of three minutes to pull the Bison within five, 59-54.

A pair of free throw makes from Keena tightened things further bringing the Bison within two points of the Black Bear lead and it appeared North Dakota State was primed to tie it up but a layup that hit the back of the backboard gave the Black Bears possession and control of the contest.

The Black Bears finished the game connecting on five free throws to end the game as Maine closed out the 64-59 win.

Maine concludes a stretch that features three games in six days as the squad hosts Bryant at the Cross Insurance Center on Saturday, Nov. 16. That game is slated for 6 p.m.