Nor’easter Avoid Upset Thanks To Big Fourth Quarter, Beat Rival USM 74-62

Nick LeTourneau, Editor

It is no secret that the women’s basketball team is the crown jewel of the University of New England athletic program after developing into a Division III powerhouse under head coach Anthony Ewing. They have routinely produced All-Conference players and NCAA Tournament births, something that was unfamiliar to most sports here aside from field hockey. Coming into this game the Nor’easters were ranked 17th in the country and opened the season against in-state rival University of Southern Maine.

The game started off a little slow but the Huskies quickly changed that, using defense and tempo to jump out to an early 12-4 lead. UNE’s offense struggled to gain any traction in the first quarter as they worked the opening night jitters out. You could tell because on offense they would routinely pass up open shots to try to make the extra pass when in reality they could’ve and should’ve taken the shot.

Ella Ramonas was a force early on for the Huskies, driving the lane and hitting threes from the start. Alicia Brown looked dominant in the first quarter with her work in the paint. She used a few skilled post moves and took advantage of her height when scoring and turning away more than her fair share of shots. Alanna Vose closed the quarter at the free throw line, hitting one-of-two, after nailing a three in the previous possession to give the Nor’easters a 15-14 lead after one.

Whatever coach Ewing said during the break really worked because the team opened up playing suffocating defense that led to points. Defensive stopper Lauren Hayden recorded one of her six total steals early in the quarter and dished it to Sadie DiPierro for two of her 14 points to increase the lead. The following possession Brown showed off her silky-smooth turn around jumper, nailing it in the face of a USM defender.

The three-point shot was a huge part of UNE’s offense in this game thanks to the sharpshooting of Vose and DiPierro. They were the catalysts of the Nor’easter attack and did a great job pacing them the entire game with their spot up shooting. Combine their shooting efforts with the lockdown defense and it was no wonder UNE ended up taking this game. After trading threes in the final minutes of the second quarter the score was tied at 32.

USM came out strong after the halftime break, draining a three to kick things off. UNE wasted no time getting those points back as Vose calmly sunk a deep three to answer. She scored the first eight points of the half for the Nor’easters and also had some key rebounds too that either extended possessions or started the break. One of my favorite moments of the game came about halfway through the third quarter when Brown sent back an ill-advised lay-up with authority.

The second half wasn’t the most productive for the Huskies, who looked lost at times on offense. They would often dribble themselves into a corner, miss cutting guards, or commit silly turnovers in the second half. However, UNE was unable to capitalize on the many opportunities given to them.

Much like the first quarter, they looked a little sluggish at times and were unable to find production from anyone that wasn’t Vose or DiPierro. They were able to weather the storm thanks to the toughness of Hayden; her steals and rebounds were key in keeping the game close. Pair that with a three from Vose to end the quarter and UNE was only down by two points.

This is where the Nor’easters looked like the dominant program that they are. They opened up the quarter with 15 unanswered points with a combined effort from Vose, DiPierro, Hayden, and Brown. While UNE did an excellent job putting this one away, it was the lack of composure from Genesis Santana that really sunk USM down the stretch. In two minutes of action she committed several frustration fouls and two turnovers that helped UNE take the upper hand. If she isn’t on the floor, the lead would’ve been six or eight points as opposed to eleven points. Senior leadership and a career game from Alanna Vose was too much to overcome for the Huskies.

There was a lot to take away from this game for the Nor’easters. Alanna Vose carried this team all night in just about every way possible, she finished with 29 points, seven rebounds, five assists, one block, and two steals. It was a treat to watch her dominate all aspects of this game and if she can play like this all season long, the sky is the limit for this team. Alicia Brown dominated the paint, rejecting five shots total. Who knows, if she keeps that up maybe Drake will be giving her shout outs instead of Dikembe Mutumbo.

The Nor’easters next game is against Bates College this Saturday at 1 pm at the Alfond Forum.