2017-03-05 / Sports

Many Maine connections at America East Women’s Basketball Tournament in Portland

By K.Z.Levinsky
Special to the Journal Tribune


The 2017 America East Women's Basketball Championship will be held this weekend, March 4-5, at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
The 2017 championship will be the first America East Women’s Basketball Championship played in the state of Maine since 1998, when the tournament took place at Alfond Arena in Orono. That championship set the conference single-site attendance mark for a women’s championship, drawing 13,624 fans. “Maine has some of the most passionate women’s basketball fans in the country and we are looking forward to taking our championship to Portland in both 2017 and 2018,” said America East Commissioner, Amy Huchthausen.  
Play begins on Saturday at noon with quarterfinal action between #8 Stony Brook and #1 New Hampshire.  #5 Binghamton and. #4 Maine play 30 minutes following the conclusion of Game 1 (approximately 2:15 p.m.).
The second Saturday session will include #7 Vermont vs. #2 Albany at 6 p.m., and #6 Hartford vs. #3 UMBC at approximately 8:15 p.m.
The quarterfinal winners will face off on Sunday with semifinals at 2 and 4:30 p.m. The championship game will be played on Friday, March 10 at the home of the highest remaining seed.  Every quarterfinal and semifinal game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
New Hampshire won the regular season championship for the first time with a program-record 25 wins. They have won 19 of their last 20 games and are 25-4 overall and 15-1 in the America East Conference
Stony Brook finished the regular season 12-17 overall and 5-11 in America East. UNH won a couple of close games over Stony Brook during the season at home 49-46 and at Stony Brook, 56-45.
UNH has three Mainers on the team.  Kristen Anderson (Sr.  G 5-7 Greene, Maine / Leavitt)   is a key Wildcat. She leads the conference in assist/turnover ratio and is second in America East in assists. She is averaging 26 minutes, 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.  Anderson occupies the No. 2 spot in UNH career assists and is No. 8 in career three-pointers.
Ashley Storey (So.  F/C 6-3 Cumberland, Maine / Greely) is averaging 18 minutes, 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. She is shooting a team high 57% from the field
Sarah Clement (Fr.  G 5-8 Falmouth, Maine / Catherine McAuley) is also on the roster.
Interestingly the Wildcats roster sports only one player from the Granite State.
No. 4 Maine plays No. 5 Binghamton in the other matchup on UNH’s side of the draw.  The winner of the UNH-Stony Brook game will play the winner of the Maine-Binghamton game on Sunday at 2 p.m. in one semifinal.  Maine earned the No. 4 seed with a win over Binghamton on Sunday.
The Black Bears have 8 freshmen including Laia Sole who won Rookie of the Week three times this season and Blanca Millan who took the honor once.
There are two Mainers on the squad including Maddy McVicar (5’4" Sophomore from Calais) who appeared in 11 games. Sierra Tapley (5'8" Freshman from Mount Desert Island) is also on roster
Associate head coach Amy Vachon will direct the team as head coach Richard Barron has been on a medic al leave of absence since the beginning of January. Under Vachon the team is 9-6 (all America East Conference games) after a 7-9, 0-1 AE start with Barron at the helm.
Vachon (in her sixth year as a Maine coach) graduated Magna Cum Laude from Maine in 2000 with a degree in elementary education. A two-time captain, Vachon led the Black Bears to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and was a member of the squad that knocked off Stanford in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament.
Vachon holds Maine records for the most assists in a season (234). She also holds the Maine and America East record for assists in a career with 759. When hired in 2011, she ranked 22nd all-time in NCAA history in career assists.
Prior to joining the University of Maine women’s basketball staff, Vachon was the head coach at Catherine McAuley High School. Vachon coached McAuley to the 2011 Maine Class A State Championship.  While attending Cony High in Augusta she was two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and was honored as Miss Maine Basketball and the High School Athlete of the Year in 1996.
Maine (16-15 9-7 AE) and their Saturday opponent, #5 Binghamton (16-15 8-8 AE) split two games this season including a Black Bear 62-49 victory in Bangor this past Sunday. Binghamton has two seniors from Maine on their team. Gorham’s Kristin Ross averages 11 minutes a game, while South Portland’s (Cheverus) Kylie Libby averages 4 minutes.
The other quarterfinal games on Saturday have No. 2 Albany playing No. 7 Vermont and No. 3 UMBC facing No. 6 Hartford.  
Albany (18-11, 12-4 AE), a top-2 seed for the sixth-straight season, has won 14-straight tournament games.  They too have a Mainer playing a key role in 6’2" Jr. Tiana-Jo Carter. The 2015-16 America East Sixth Player of the Year from Lake Region High in Naples averages 16 minutes, 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. The team leader with 36 blocks, Carter had 17 points and 4 steals in the regular season finale at Hartford.
Tickets {available at http://crossinsurance.arenaportland.com/events) are:
Reserved: All Tourney Pass (3 Sessions): $40 Adult, $20 Youth
Reserved: Single Session: Adult $15, Youth $8,
General Admission: $3 America East Student, $10 Adult
UNH has three Mainers on the team.  Kristen Anderson (Sr.  G 5-7 Greene, Maine / Leavitt)   is a key Wildcat. She leads the conference in assist/turnover ratio and is second in America East in assists. She is averaging 26 minutes, 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.  Anderson occupies the No. 2 spot in UNH career assists and is No. 8 in career three-pointers.



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