UMaine’s Maeve Carroll looks for a outlet as she is double teamed by Stony Brook defenders during a Jan. 9 game in Bangor. Carroll won America East Player of the Week honors after posting double-doubles in two wins at Binghamton over the weekend. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The University of Maine women’s basketball team has been on a roll the last two weeks, winning five consecutive America East conference games.

Over that stretch, the Black Bears held opponents to just under 42 points per game and a 34 percent shooting percentage. And leading the way is 5-foot-11 forward Maeve Carroll.

A grad student who is the only senior on the team, Carroll had a double-double in each of Maine’s two wins at Binghamton over the weekend. She scored 16 points and had 12 rebounds in 54-45 win on Friday, and 12 points and 14 boards in a come-from-behind, 48-46 win over the Bearcats on Sunday.

Carroll’s efforts in the two-game sweep earned her America East Player of the Week honors.

“I think individually people at different times have found their confidence, and I think right now it’s all starting to come together offensively,” Carroll said of the team’s recent play. “And we’ve had a really big focus on defense. We’re really gaining our energy from our defense.”

The Black Bears face a big challenge Wednesday night when they host Albany at Memorial Gym. At 9-2 in conference play, the Great Danes are in second place behind Stony Brook, one game ahead of Maine (8-3, 11-10 overall). With Stony Brook ruled ineligible for the America East tournament because the school announced it will leave America East for the Colonial Athletic Association next season, Wednesday’s game is essentially for first place in the conference.


“Albany is a really good team. They have kids who have been playing well together for a few years now,” said Maine head coach Amy Vachon.

Ten of the 14 players on Maine’s roster are either freshmen or sophomores, and Vachon raves about Carroll’s leadership with her younger teammates. That was evident during a stretch early in conference play in which Carroll couldn’t find her shot. Over a four-game run beginning with Maine’s 63-44 loss to Stony Brook on Jan. 12, Carroll was just 9 for 33 from the floor. Carroll’s own struggles didn’t keep her from focusing on helping her inexperienced teammates get better.

“She’s a natural leader. She’s just steady. I told her, ‘None of those young kids knew you were struggling. You were the same every day,'” Vachon said. “She just focused on the things she can control, her rebounding and defense and it was nice to see the last couple games her offense really start to click.”

Since shooting 27 percent over that four-game stretch, Carroll has shot 43 percent. For the season. Carroll’s 10.3 points per game is second on the team to Anne Simon, who leads the conference in scoring at 16.1 points per game.

“I was a little timid about scoring. It just kind of slowly came. I feel good about my game right now,” Carroll said. “I think a lot of my timidness earlier in the season came from missing layups, and I wasn’t attacking as much. I wasn’t looking at the rim.”

Carroll said she’s enjoying helping her young teammates develop their skills and helping any way she can.

“I think our younger kids are starting to find their way in our offense. Trying to really hunt their shot down. That just helps us more, having all these threats on the court. We need that,” Carroll said. “I felt like in the beginning of the year, I had to say more. I had to take more control. As we go on, with more players gaining confidence, I feel like I don’t have take as much control on the court. It’s not just one leader everyone follows.”

The Black Bears’ improvement had been noticeable primarily on the defensive side. Over the five-game win streak, Maine forced 95 turnovers, an average of 19 per game. The Black Bears also outrebounded their opponent in three of the five wins. In the two games they did not, a 53-45 win over New Hampshire on Jan. 26 and Sunday’s win at Binghamton, the opponent grabbed just two more boards than Maine.

“We still have a long way to go. We’re just really young. We still have good days and bad days,” Vachon said. “We’ve had more good days than bad days lately.”

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