Throughout the first semester, the Colby men’s basketball team was agonizingly close to having a much better record. The Mules kept losing nail-biters and it was clear they needed a little more experience and some better long-range shooting.

Through eight games Colby was shooting 23 percent on 3-pointers, which ranked the Mules in the bottom five teams in the country in Division III. This month, that has changed dramatically. Colby shot nine for 25 (36 percent) against Roger Williams and nine for 14 (64 percent) in a four-point win over Hamilton.

“I certainly didn’t think we were as bad a shooting team as the early stats had indicated,” Colby coach Damien Strahorn said. “For us, the next step is being able to close teams out. It’s a much better thing to be fighting for, that’s for sure.”

The Mules (4-7) can be expected to make young mistakes as their top eight scorers are five freshmen and three sophomores. Strahorn sees them progressing and he’ll find out more about that on Friday when Colby faces Bates. On Dec. 8, the Mules led Bates by 15 at halftime before losing by 10.

“It’s an opportunity to show how much we’ve grown in the last month,” Strahorn said.

The early star of the strong freshman class is center Chris Hudnut. In 23 minutes per night, Hudnut is averaging 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds. He’s shooting 48 percent overall and 41 percent from 3-point range.

Strahorn said an ankle injury slowed Hudnut down in the first semester, and as more opponents begin to focus on him, the keys will be how well he can continue to produce and how well he can use his teammates.

“He’s a 6-8 strong kid,” Strahorn said. “He really has a tremendous skill level and has the ability to go inside-out. He’s a guy we have a chance to do a lot of different things with.”

* * *

The University of Maine at Augusta women’s basketball team has a bit of a weird schedule for December-January. The Moose were off from Dec. 12 to Jan. 5-6, when they split two games at a tournament in New Hampshire to go to 9-6 overall. The second semester at the school starts Monday, so UMA won’t play again until Jan. 19-20, when they have back-to-back games at UMaine-Presque Isle and UMaine-Fort Kent.

“We’re adding a couple of players this semester, so it gives us an opportunity to get back in the swing of things,” UMA coach Jennifer Laney said.

Laney said she actually has three potential players coming in, but nothing is official because they haven’t practiced with the team yet. In close games, UMA has been using a six-player rotation with starters often playing 40 minutes.

“We’ve struggled a little bit with numbers this year, but I think we have a small, strong foundation,” Laney said.

Freshman Arreonte Lee, of San Antonio, Texas, is averaging 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Cony graduate Allyssa Marson is averaging 17.2 points and 5.2 assists.

Perhaps the most interesting story among the players in the regular rotation is Cony grad Maegan Cloutier, who comes off the bench and averages 6.8 points in about 20 minutes per game. While Cloutier was a softball standout Cony, she did not play high school basketball. Laney said Cloutier plays basketball year-round.

“She’s just a great athlete and really picked up organized basketball very well,” Laney said. “I had known her playing softball and known that she’s an athlete. When she came to UMA, I tried to get her. She didn’t play her first year. After some coercing from other teammates, she ended up coming out for the team.”

* * *

Foul shots can be tough to make, but one exception is University of Maine at Farmington freshman Elizabeth Ferry of Winslow.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game against Maine Maritime Academy, Ferry made 25 of her 29 free throw attempts, a percentage rate of 86.2. She hit 12 straight foul shots, dating back to the Dec. 1 game against Green Mountain.

Ferry has been getting consistent minutes off the bench for the Beavers all season and is averaging 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

* * *

Also noteworthy is the dominance of Thomas freshman Megan Pelletier, a Messalonskee grad. Pelletier leads the Terriers in the following categories: Minutes played, field goals, field goal attempts, free throws, free throw attempts, points, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals and blocked shots.

That’s 12 categories altogether. She’s also second on Thomas in 3-pointers made, 3-pointers attempted and offensive rebounds.

Entering Tuesday night’s game against Husson, Pelletier had 18 of her team’s 30 blocked shots. She had 64 more points than any of her teammates, had more assists than any two of her teammates combined and had more free throw attempts than any three of her teammates combined.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

mdifilippo@centralmaine.com