ORONO – Cindy Blodgett has often elicited jubilant cheers from huge Alfond Arena crowds with her flashy play for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.
Friday night, Blodgett silenced a sold-out throng of 5,508 fans.
The UMaine faithful received a scary reminder that their most beloved player, who has been as dependable as she has been sensational, should never be taken for granted.
Blodgett aggravated an injury in her left foot and was forced to leave the game with 8:20 left in Friday’s America East game against Boston University. The Black Bears won 80-56, but Blodgett’s sudden vulnerability seemed to overshadow any elation.
Coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie said Blodgett is suffering from a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. It involves the inflammation of a sheet of fibrous connective tissue in the bottom of her foot and is caused by overuse.
Blodgett appeared frightened when she felt an excruciating snap that caused her to throw up a wild shot and plead for a timeout while hopping on her right foot.
The sensation actually may be a positive sign for Blodgett, who has been dealing with the condition since September.
“It snapped today and [the pressure] had to be released,” Blodgett said. “The trainer, Sherrie [Weeks], told me it could do that. After it gets better, I shouldn’t have the tightness.”
Palombo said Blodgett had worked through the pain and discomfort prior to Friday night.
“She has been playing in a great deal of pain up to this point,” Palombo said.
“You can play with it, plantar fasciitis, but what happened tonight was a piece of it snapped, which is a good thing, I am told, because it releases the pressure in her foot,” she added.
Blodgett, who will be evaluated again Saturday, is uncertain about how quickly she might recover.
“I don’t really know yet,” Blodgett said after the game.
UMaine’s Klara Danes struggled with plantar fasciitis last season and finally had off-season surgery to correct the problem. She has been pain-free this season.
NBA stars Grant Hill and Scottie Pippen are among the more prominent players who have dealt with the condition.
“It’s an ongoing thing and it’s a very difficult injury, because you’re constantly playing in pain,” Palombo said. “That’s hard, so we’re all hopeful that it’s a positive thing and she can play without pain from here on out.”
Blodgett finished with a season-low 16 points after struggling to a 5-for-14 shooting performance. She made seven assists and grabbed six rebounds in 30 minutes for the 7-2 Bears, who beat BU for the seventh straight time.
Blodgett has played in 101 consecutive games for the Bears, but her status for Thursday’s game at Towson University (Md.) is not known.
Jamie Cassidy powered Maine with a game-high 27 points and pulled down six rebounds, while Klara Danes tied a career high with 20 points.
The Terriers, who played a matchup zone and some man-to-man, were unable to contend with Cassidy and Danes inside. Danes scored 17 points in the first half, while Cassidy dominated after intermission.
Maine led 47-27 at the break and extended its lead to as many as 24 points midway through the second half despite a handful of turnovers.
Kelly Jo Gallagher and Alison Dixon scored 15 points each for the 2-7 Terriers. Alicia Charles added 10 points and nine rebounds.
With cars still lined up along College Avenue waiting to get into the Alfond, the Bears established themselves with an 18-6 blitz during the first 4 1/2 minutes.
Maine was able to run the floor, which allowed the guards to find Danes and Cassidy in the paint. Cassidy connected for seven points during the initial run, while Danes cashed in when the defense looked Cassidy’s way.
The hosts already led 11-6 when they rattled off 12 unanswered points. Danes hit from underneath, Cassidy converted a conventional three-point play and Sandi Carver banked in an eight-foot jumper.
Danes poured in 17 first-half points on 8-for-8 shooting. She used her quickness and strength to get open in the paint.
Blodgett, who uncharacteristically had trouble finding the range in the early going, knocked down a 3-pointer and Danes scored again from close range to give Maine a 23-6 lead.
The Terriers kept it close for a while by crashing the offensive boards and getting some second-chance points.
Black Bears 80, Terriers 58
Boston Univ. (2-7) Maine (7-2)
Name G AG F AF TP Name G AG F AF TP
Latour 1 4 0 0 2 Clark 2 2 0 0 4
Gallagher 6 19 0 0 15 Danes 9 10 2 4 20
Charles 5 9 0 2 10 Cassidy 11 16 5 6 27
Nicholls 4 13 0 0 8 Blodgett 5 14 3 3 16
Millett 1 7 0 0 2 Vachon 1 4 2 2 4
Benedict 1 3 0 0 3 Macream 0 0 0 0 0
Dixon 7 15 1 1 15 McCormick 1 3 0 0 3
LaPlante 0 0 0 0 0 Carver 2 4 0 0 4
Prassas 0 0 0 0 0 Tinklova 0 2 0 0 0
Neuschaefer 0 0 0 0 0 Clark 1 3 0 0 2
Graban 0 0 0 0 0
Powers 1 1 1 2 3
Totals 26 71 2 5 58 Totals 32 58 12 15 80
Boston University 27 58
Maine 47 80
3-pt. goals: Boston University (4-16): Gallagher 3-10, Nicholls 0-1, Millett 0-4, Benedict 1-1; Maine (4-8): Blodgett 3-6, Vachon 0-1, McCormick 1-1