April 05, 2020

Maine turns inside to Cassidy, overpowers New Hampshire

DURHAM, N.H. – Jamie Cassidy has been the perfect complement to Cindy Blodgett since her arrival at the University of Maine.

With leading scorer Blodgett nursing a foot injury, the sophomore center has become the hub around which the Black Bear offense revolves.

Cassidy dismantled the interior of the New Hampshire defense Saturday, scoring 29 points to power Maine to a 75-61 America East victory in front of 2,097 fans at the spacious Whittemore Center.

“She’s a go-to player in any context,” Maine coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie said of Cassidy, who grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.

“She really was jumping to the ball, bouncing on her feet. And, despite the fact they were trying to double-team her, she was going to the ball and then being able to create from there.”

The 11-2 Black Bears improved to 7-0 in league play, winning without Blodgett for the fourth straight game. Palombo said the senior has been cleared by doctors to begin practicing at full speed today.

The hope is Blodgett will be available when Maine travels to Drexel and Hofstra on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Cassidy dominated Saturday, making 13 of 20 shots while utilizing strong inside moves and a soft touch from farther out. Unable to stop Maine’s 6-foot-4 workhorse, the Wildcats got into early foul trouble and never recovered.

“I’ve been working on trying to come to the ball, not just wait for it to come to me, so the defense can’t get around,” Cassidy said. “It’s a big loss not having Cindy, so we just want to go in there and try to step it up.”

Sophomore guard Kristen McCormick provided balance from the outside, connecting for 16 points on 6-for-10 accuracy. But the Bears did most of their scoring by pushing the ball inside.

“I think the conscious focus has been attack from the inside out,” Palombo said.

Sandi Carver contributed nine points and six rebounds, while Klara Danes, Kelly Bowman and Kizzy Lopez added six points apiece. Point guard Amy Vachon, who played only 29 minutes because of illness, dished out a career-high 10 assists and grabbed five rebounds.

Maine emerged with a 39-28 rebounding advantage, limiting the Wildcats to three offensive boards in the second half. Maine shot 52 percent from the field, including 57 percent in the first half.

Orsi Farkas led New Hampshire (4-10, 2-5) with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Karl provided 14 points and five assists and Steph Schubert added 13 points.

The Bears began to find some offensive consistency 11 minutes into the contest, with reserves Lopez and Bowman providing the spark for a 14-4 scoring run that gave Maine a 31-19 lead with 5:03 left in the first half.

Cassidy hit two foul shots, then Lopez snared a one-handed rebound and scored from underneath to get things going. Kim Kassik scored for UNH on a back-door lob from Kelly Karl, but another rebound hoop by Lopez and a low-post basket by Danes made it 25-17 with 6:30 left in the half.

Bowman, seeing her first action in more than a year after undergoing reconstructive surgery on her right knee and a stress fracture in her left leg, kept the momentum going with two free throws.

“Look at Kelly Bowman coming off the bench and giving us a great lift, and Kizzy Lopez and her rebounding giving us a great lift coming off the bench as well,” Palombo said.

Bowman later hit a 16-footer from the baseline and scored on a put-back during an 11-1 spurt as the Bears pushed their lead to 42-17 late in the first half.

“I was very nervous, but it was exciting,” said Bowman, whose family was in attendance to witness her return. “It’s been a long road, but I’m back now and I’m just looking forward to playing the rest of the season and trying to keep myself healthy. That’s the most important thing for me.”

The Wildcats trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half after six straight points by Cassidy.

Black Bears 75, Wildcats 61

Maine women (11-2) New Hampshire (4-10)


McCormick 6 10 2 2 16 Kassik 3 9 0 0 6

Danes 1 5 4 4 6 Schubert 6 9 0 0 13

Vachon 0 2 3 6 3 Karl 5 14 0 0 14

Carver 3 6 3 4 9 Godfrey 1 8 2 3 4

Cassidy 13 20 3 3 29 Farkas 4 4 8 12 16

Bowman 2 4 2 2 6 Domanski 1 6 2 2 4

Lopez 3 3 0 2 6 Bushey 0 1 2 2 2

Tinklova 0 3 0 0 0 Cerasuolo 0 0 0 0 0

Macream 0 1 0 0 0 Donahue 1 2 0 1 2

A. Clark 0 0 0 0 0 Beal 0 3 0 0 0

Totals 28 54 17 23 75 Totals 21 55 14 20 61

Maine 42 75

New Hampshire 29 61

3-pt. goals: Maine (2-5): McCormick 2-4, Bowman 0-1; New Hampshire (5-15): Kassik 0-5, Schubert 1-2, Karl 4-8

Attendance: 2,097

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