ORONO — University of Maine women’s basketball coach Amy Vachon couched her words Friday night.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll ever see,” she said.
Tulane Coach Lisa Stockton took the direct approach.
“Ugly game,” Stockton said after her Green Wave beat the Black Bears 42-34 in the Maine Women’s Tip-Off Basketball Tournament before an estimated crowd of 600 at Memorial Gymnasium.
Tulane (1-0) will play the championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Harvard or Dayton. Maine (0-1) will play at 4.
Tanesha Sutton led Maine with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Kolby Morgan scored 18 for Tulane, which shot 28.6 percent.
“Defensively I’m really happy with our kids,” said Vachon, whose team switched back and forth from zone to man-to-man, frustrating the Green Wave.
“Unfortunately for us,” Vachon added, “offense was hard to come by.”
The Black Bears couldn’t score much inside and often missed outside, shooting 26.4 percent. Blanca Millan was Maine’s next-highest scorer with five points.
The Black Bears, playing in their practice gym, hit only 3-of-23 3-pointers.
“We knew what (Tulane’s defense) was doing but we couldn’t make shots,” Millan said.
Still, Maine led 30-28 after the third quarter but managed two baskets in the fourth.
“We were executing our plays,” Sutton said, “but (the shots) weren’t falling.”
The lead changed three times early in the fourth quarter. Fanny Wadling (four points/six rebounds) of Maine made it 34-34 with a layup with 4:52 remaining.
From there Maine missed its last seven shots and turned it over once.
“The end of the game is on me,” Vachon said. “I have to put our kids in better positions to make shots.”
Harlyn Wyatt’s layup put Tulane ahead 36-34 with 2:53 left. After a Maine miss, Morgan, a 5-foot-8 guard who had been guarded heavily, got open for a 3-pointer.
“The defense overhelped on the other side. My teammates saw me and I got the perfect pass,” Morgan said.
The 3-pointer put Tulane ahead 39-34. Soon the Black Bears began fouling and the Green Wave clinched it.
“Give Maine a lot of credit. They took some things away from us,” Stockton said. “But we (also) had some open shots we normally make … I’m glad we could finish it that last five minutes.”
Sutton, an undersized forward at 5-11, was the force, playing the whole game, grabbing key rebounds and making steals, while shooting 5 of 8 from the field.
“Tanesha’s a rock,” Vachon said. “She does a lot for us. She definitely is our hardest worker out there. I’m constantly telling her to shoot more.”
The Black Bears will keep shooting. Vachon expects improvement.
“This team is a young team,” Vachon said. (Sutton is the oldest regular as a junior). “They are still trying to figure out their roles and embrace them. I have no doubt they will.
“As coaches and as fans, we want them to do it faster. … They’ll figure it out and when they do, it will be fun to watch.”
Next week the Black Bears will move to their regular home court at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, for games Tuesday (Bryant) and Thursday (UMaine-Fort Kent).