WATERVILLE — It may not have been the start the Colby women’s basketball team was looking for against Plymouth State on Monday night.

But the finish certainly was.

Aided by a third quarter where they outscored the Panthers by 16 points, the Mules cruised to a 68-48 non-conference win at the Margaret M. Crook Center.

Colby, which suffered its first loss of the season Saturday to New England Small College Athletic Conference foe Bowdoin, improves to 7-1. Plymouth State falls to 1-4.

Caroline Smith and Keagan Dunbar each led Colby with 14 points, while Carly Christofori added 13 points.

“We’ve had two slow starts, at Bowdoin (on Saturday) and here tonight,” said Smith, a sophomore guard and Freeport High School graduate. “I think in the locker room, we just talked about holding each other accountable and coming out to play Colby basketball.”

The Mules had some early shooting woes, which the Panthers took advantage of, taking a 13-10 first quarter lead. But Colby would find its groove, and thanks to a 10-0 run in the middle of the second quarter, plus a strong advantage on the boards (21 rebounds to Plymouth State’s seven for the half), the Mules took a 27-22 halftime lead.

Colby’s Caroline Smith snatches a rebound away from Plymouth State defenders during women’s basketball action Monday in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

But Colby jumped on Plymouth from the start of the second half, using an 11-0 run and a 9-0 run. From there, the Mules went ahead 58-37 to end the third quarter before giving way to their bench for much of the fourth to finish the game.

“Kudos to (Plymouth State), they got out to a hot start and hit some shots early,” Colby head coach Chenel Harris-Smith said. “They were fired up, and I think our girls were on their heels a little bit. But they came out with the energy (in the second half) and decided that we weren’t going to let our offense dictate our energy. We let our defense do it. We really attacked it from the defensive end. They came out with phenomenal energy, but it all stemmed from our defense.”

Colby was also dominant on the boards, outrebounding Plymouth by a 47-21 mark. Colby guard Chiamaka Ubani was a particular force, leading the Mules with 12 rebounds while adding nine points.

“(Rebounding) is something we’ve been talking about since the top of the season,” Harris-Smith said. “We’ve really decided that we have to dive in and crash the boards. (Plymouth) is a great rebounding team. They have multiple players averaging six-plus rebounds a game. So a huge area of focus for us was crashing the boards and utilizing some of our mismatches. We had a height advantage (from players) one through five on the floor.”

The Panthers were led by Alessia Salzillo and Sabrina Vlahovic, who each scored 14 points. Autumn Nelson added six points for Plymouth.

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