August 22, 2019

SMU slips past ‘cold’ UM Bears Heon out with injury

ORONO – Something, and perhaps more importantly someone, was missing Sunday afternoon at Alfond Arena.

The University of Maine women’s basketball team struggled mightily on offense against a scrappy Southern Methodist team. And with emotional senior leader Melissa Heon sidelined by a thumb injury, the Black Bears didn’t find the spark they needed to overcome their shooting woes.

SMU shot only 29 percent itself, but held UMaine to 31 percent shooting and outrebounded the hosts while clanging its way to a 44-43 victory witnessed by 2,371 fans.

“I thought this game, obviously, was going to be a very tough game coming off of Christmas break,” said coach Sharon Versyp, whose Bears are 5-4. “When you play a game at home, you need to take care of it and win. We didn’t do that.”

The Bears were unable to find the shooting range or establish any chemistry against the physically talented Mustangs (4-4). The 43 points were the fewest by a UMaine team since an 87-41 loss at Florida on Nov. 25, 2000.

UMaine afforded SMU only three points in the last 61/2 minutes, but was unable to make a clutch shot down the stretch.

“I know that team’s a better shooting team than what they showed tonight, because they can flat shoot it,” said SMU coach Rhonda Rompola.

The Bears went 1-for-13 from 3-point range, while the Mustangs hit 5 of 19.

“Our 3-point shot is really what killed us today,” Versyp said.

Senior captain Heather Ernest, who led the Bears with 14 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, said Heon’s absence was a factor in the outcome.

“Melissa’s in there usually above 30 minutes a game, so that’s a lot of minutes to fill when you don’t have one of your best defenders on the floor,” Ernest said. “She’s very emotional on the floor for us and that usually carries us quite a bit.”

Heon, who is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists in 33.6 minutes per game, hurt her left thumb during practice Friday. The severity of the injury has not been determined.

“It definitely was tough without her, but we need to learn that if players get hurt we need to step up,” Ernest said. “We’re going to have to do a better job.”

Sophomore forward Abby Schrader provided 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots for UMaine, while freshman Bracey Barker of Bar Harbor added eight points.

Sarah Davis paced SMU with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Shonte Roberts tossed in 13 points. Andrea Cossey posted four blocks and two steals.

Katie Gross’s 3-pointer at the 3:16 mark gave SMU a 44-37 lead, but the Bears hung tough. Barker hit an eight-footer off a give-and-go with Kim Corbitt, then Monica Peterson threw in a driving lefthanded scoop shot 35 seconds later to get UMaine within 44-41 with 2:21 to play.

The Bears had three more possessions, which resulted in a missed 3-pointer by Barker with 1:27 left, a rushed 16-foot jumper by Julie Veilleux of Augusta with 55 seconds remaining and the final sequence.

An SMU turnover gave UMaine the ball back with 24.8 seconds left. Coming out of a timeout, Ernest passed up an open 3-pointer, then eventually took one several seconds later.

Peterson rebounded and missed on a baseline drive, then Barker had time only to put in the rebound as time expired.

“Both teams just didn’t shoot well,” Versyp said, “… but both teams played very good defense.”

SMU, which led 18-17 at halftime, outrebounded UMaine 45-42, the first time this season it beat a team on the boards.

“I thought that was a big difference in the game,” Rompola said.

The Bears, who went eight minutes between field goals in the first half, did receive a boost from Schrader. She scored six straight points early in the second half to give UMaine a short-lived lead.

“[I just] kind of go out there and play tough and take what they give you,” she said.


Southern Methodist (4-4) Maine (5-4)

Player G AG F AF TP Player G AG AF TP

Shead 2 5 0 0 6 Traversi 0 0

Davis 7 12 0 0 15 Ernest 4 12 14

Ramdhanny 0 6 0 0 0 Corbitt 1 7 2

Walter 1 7 2 4 4 Veilleux 2 4

Cossey 1 4 0 0 3 Peterson 1 3

White 0 5 0 0 0 Underwood 1 2

Gross 1 7 0 0 3 Hugstd-Vaa 0 0

Roberts 6 16 1 1 13 Jay 0 1 0

Leet 0 0 0 0 0 Barker 4 7 0 8

Swinney 0 1 0 0 0 Quacknbsh 0 0

Schrader 5 10 10

Totals 18 63 3 5 44 Totals 18 58 43

SMU 18 44

Maine 17 43

3-pt. goals ? SMU (5-19): Shead 2-4, Davis 1-5, Ramdhanny 0-2, Cossey 1-3, Gross 1-5; Maine (1-13): Traversi 0-2, Ernest 1-2, Corbitt 0-1, Veilleux 0-1, Underwood 0-4, Hugstad-Vaa 0-1, Barker 0-2

Attendance: 2,371

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