AUGUSTA — The University of Maine women’s basketball team is not firing up a brick every time it takes a 3-pointer. The Black Bears are not forcing up awkward or hurried shots, and they’re moving the ball around quickly, finding the open player to take the shot.

Still, the shots just aren’t falling.

Sunday’s 45-44 loss to Rhode Island offered the latest example for the Black Bears, whose record dropped to 2-7. Playing in front of 2,140 fans at the Augusta Civic Center, Maine was 5 for 26 from 3-point range. The Black Bears’ first shot of the game was a missed 3 by Alba Orois 42 seconds in the game, and their final shot was a missed 3 by Caroline Bornemann at the buzzer.

On the season, Maine’s 3-point shooting percentage is .277 (47 for 207), well off the .325 mark (149 for 458) the Black Bears shot last winter while compiling a 17-3 record.

Coach Amy Vachon is frustrated, but not discouraged.

“I told them in the fourth quarter, you have to keep shooting. You have to believe it,” Vachon said. “I told them after the game, we have everything that we need in that game. We competed, we fought like heck. Defensively, we did everything we wanted to do. We got great shots. We’ve just got to make them. I really do have faith in them.”


Sunday’s game was part of a season-long trend. Maine has made more than 30 percent of its 3-point tries in just two games. Not coincidentally, each came during the Black Bears’ two wins. Maine shot 34.7 percent (8 for 23) in a 47-44 win at Yale on Nov. 19, and followed that with 31.8 percent (7 for 22) in a 59-57 win over Boston University two days later.

Those two games have been the exception. The low point was a 1-for-21 effort in a 57-33 loss to Drexel on Dec. 4. In the game prior to that, Maine was 3 for 19 in an 82-43 loss at Princeton.

Two close overtime losses emphasize how thin the margin between winning and losing can be. In a 66-61 loss to Providence, Maine was 8 for 31 from 3-point range. In an 87-81 double overtime loss at Army, the Black Bears made just 7 of 28 3-point tries.

The shots aren’t falling, but that doesn’t mean Vachon doesn’t want her team to hesitate when open. If she didn’t believe the 3s will start to fall, the team would not average 23 3-point attempts per game.

“That’s what it is. It’s more shooting. It’s confidence. We have belief in them,” Vachon said. “They’ve got to start believing in themselves. You saw it in the fourth quarter. We had great shots.

“Our offense is designed for this. We’ve done really well in six, seven years. We’re not going to scrap it because we’ve had a month of bad shooting.”


Freshman guard Bailey Wilborn has been Maine’s most consistent 3-point threat, but even she has struggled to find her rhythm from behind the arc, shooting just 28 percent (18 for 64). In Sunday’s loss, Wilborn was 3 for 9 from 3-point range. Leading scorer Anne Simon, averaging 15.9 points per game, was just 1 for 7, making a long 3 from just left of the top of the key with 3:02 remaining to tie the game at 42-42. Orois, the point guard, shot 1 for 5 from behind the arc, her basket cutting URI’s lead to 34-33 with 7:57 to play.

Maine was 2 for 5 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, and that is something the Black Bears think they can build on from a tough loss against a good opponent. URI is now 9-3.

“We stayed in it with them and competed. I know we’re frustrated, but this is a great stepping stone, considering in the last two games, we didn’t put up a fight. We didn’t compete, which is very unlike us,” said Maeve Carroll, Maine’s lone senior, who scored seven points and grabbed 11 rebounds Sunday.

The Black Bears have two more nonconference games, at home against Dartmouth next Sunday and against Northeastern on Dec. 22. Maine opens America East play Dec. 30 at Vermont. The Black Bears need to keep working on their shots in the empty gym at practice, Vachon said, so they start making them in games.

“We have the winter break where we can really work on our shot. I’m excited. I’m excited for this team. I’m hoping this is going to be a turning point for us, because Rhode Island’s a heck of a team. They’re really, really good. I’m excited to see what we can do from here,” Vachon said.

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