DURHAM, N.H. – Kelly Bowman walked out of the locker room Saturday at the Whittemore Center wearing a glowing smile.
She could hardly contain her excitement after helping the University of Maine post a 75-61 America East basketball victory over New Hampshire.
The junior guard from Newport contributed to the effort, scoring six points, grabbing three rebounds and blocking a shot in 16 minutes of action. It was her first appearance for the Black Bears since Dec. 14, 1996.
“I think it’s a credit to her that she has fought back physically after two different injuries,” said Maine coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie. “She played a fabulous game and also gave us a huge spark off the bench.”
With the support of her family and teammates, Bowman finally has made it back into the lineup.
“I just tried to stay positive and interact with the team as much as I could, even though I wasn’t able to play with them,” Bowman said. “They were really supportive of me.”
Bowman has encountered plenty of obstacles during her two-plus seasons at UMaine. Three games into last season, Bowman suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
The injury required reconstructive surgery, which was done during Christmas break. Bowman rehabilitated the knee last spring and summer, only to be diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left leg.
That injury had sidelined Bowman until she returned to full practices less than two weeks ago.
“It’s very frustrating, especially when you have a major injury, you come off that and you’re ready to play, then you get another one. It’s like a double-whammy to you,” Bowman said.
Palombo was pleased with Bowman’s performance against the Wildcats, especially on defense.
“Kelly is very sharp defensively. She has a great savvy,” Palombo said. “She makes the proper adjustments on defense. She seldom is out of position. Kelly’s a smart player.”
Bowman’s return has helped the Bears maintain some depth in the last week with starting guard Cindy Blodgett and reserve swing player Katie Clark both sidelined with foot injuries.
Kim Condon of Colby College in Waterville continues to lead the New England Small College Athletic Conference in scoring.
The freshman guard/forward from Presque Isle is averaging 21.9 points per game for the 5-4 White Mules, who are coming off back-to-back losses to rival Bates College of Lewiston.
Colby and Bowdoin meet tonight at Morrell Gymnasium in Brunswick in the 136th renewal of their instate men’s basketball rivalry.
The White Mules, coached by former Bowdoin captain Dick Whitmore, and the Polar Bears enter the contest with identical 8-3 records.