Last minute road trips can be an adventure. More likely, the one the University of Maine women’s basketball team took to Albany, New York this weekend is a reminder that there is nothing to take for granted in this season.

The Black Bears were supposed to be home this weekend, taking on the University of Vermont in the Pit. When UVM put its season on pause due a case of COVID-19 in the program, America East juggled the schedule. Maine was going to Albany for a pair of games.

What are you going to do? Refuse to get on the bus? Of course not. You make the 820 mile round trip from Orono to Albany. You adapt. You breathe a sigh of relief that you’re able to play basketball at all.

“They were just glad that we were playing. We had thought that there may be a chance we weren’t going to play Vermont, just because of how they were out last week,” Maine head coach Amy Vachon said in a Zoom interview after Saturday’s game. “Our players were just asking, well if we don’t play Vermont, will we play a different team? They just want to play. It doesn’t matter where, who, or what at this point. They just want to play the game.”

If the sudden change of plans bothered the Black Bears (9-1, 6-1 America East), they didn’t take their frustrations to the court. They did take any frustrations out on the Great Danes, however, taking a 66-48 win. Albany led this game for approximately 55 seconds in the first two minutes of the game. Maine took a 4-2 lead on a Dor Saar jumper with 8:20 left in the first quarter, and never gave it back.

“I liked how we came out in the first quarter. I thought we came out strong there and built a lead, and kind of just rode that lead the rest of the game,” Vachon said.

There were other bright spots to point to as evidence the Black Bears were not bothered by their unexpected long road trip. Maine was a perfect 16 for 16 at the foul line. Maine entered the game making just 69 percent of its free throws. A week ago in the first game of a weekend series at home against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Black Bears were just 6 of 13 at the line.

Maine took care of the basketball, committing just eight turnovers to Albany’s 22. Maine averages just under 13 turnovers per game, anyway. The Black Bears already were not giving away possessions. If Saturday’s effort is the start of a pattern and not just a good day, a good team is going to be that much tougher to defeat. Taking care of the basketball, Maine got out in transition, and outscored the Great Danes 25-5 in points off turnovers. There’s the game, in one statistic.

“It starts with Dor (Saar), our point guard. Her assist to turnover ratio is just incredible. To see the rest of our team follow suit, it’s always nice,” Vachon said. “(Transition offense is) something we’ve been trying to do the last few weeks. The big thing for us is getting the rebounds. I think in the second half we didn’t do as good a job rebounding, so we weren’t able to get out and run as much, but we really like to do that. Knowing Albany, unfortunately, had been in quarantine and they hadn’t been practicing in a while, I think it may take a little while to get into game shape the way they want to be in game shape. I think that played into part of it as well. We’ve been fortunate we’ve been going for quite a while here.”

This weekend, the Black Bears traded a pair of games at home against a team currently on pause for a pair of games on the road against a team that had not played in two and a half weeks and was at home for the first time. That’s how this season is going to go. When the schedule changes, you don’t grumble. You thank the basketball gods you get to play at all and you get on the bus.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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