FARMINGTON – Mt. Blue and Lawrence each may boast of a prominent graduate’s retired uniform number dangling from the rafters above courtside at the University of Maine.

More years later than they would care to admit, both programs harbor their most realistic hopes of a return to Eastern Class A and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference supremacy since the halcyon days of Heather Ernest and Cindy Blodgett. Lawrence looked a lot closer to mid-February form in an authoritative 51-40 girls’ basketball triumph Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer on their first possession and never trailed.

Lawrence (2-0) led by 17 early in the second quarter and staved off a pair of Mt. Blue rallies in the second half.

“It’s all about who plays the hardest and who plays the smartest,” said Lawrence junior Brogan Liberty, who scored eight points in the first quarter and eight more in the third period on her way to a game-high 21. “We felt that we had more heart.”

Liberty erupted for 27 points in a season-opening rout Friday at Old Town.

“We don’t talk specifically about being on the road except for the fact that the home team is going to have their pushes,” said Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin.

“We talked at halftime about limiting their runs and how the team that was going to win the game was the team that had the most runs.”

Mt. Blue concluded the first half with a 10-1 surge, holding Lawrence without a field goal for the final 5:13 to claw within eight at 28-20.

The Cougars twice cut the gap to four after intermission, once on Meghan Robinson’s second 3-pointer of the night and again on a lob inside for a deuce by 6-foot-3 senior standout Christina Mosher.

Lawrence saddled Mosher with her second, third and fourth personal fouls in the pivotal third period, however, and the Bulldogs took advantage of the resulting softer defense with a 9-2 gain. Mallorie Blakney scored back-to-back buckets on a steal and a put-back to restore Lawrence’s double-digit lead.

Mosher, who will follow late 1990s star Ernest to the state university on a Division I scholarship, finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars (1-1). Robinson added 10 points, while Bonnie Silkman chalked up eight points, six boards and five steals.

“We didn’t play our game. We did it in spurts, and when we did it in spurts was when we came back,” said Mt. Blue coach Jeannine Paradis. “We allowed them to take us out of our element, as much as I tried to rein us back in.”

Sebrina Keach’s conventional 3-point play and an Amelia Allen lay-up dropped the deficit to eight with 4:31 remaining. But the Cougars went more than four minutes until their next and final field goal, a second-chance hoop by Mosher on their final possession.

Lawrence sprinted to a 22-7 lead on 8-of-12 shooting in the first quarter. The Bulldogs went just 11-for-41 thereafter and committed 27 turnovers.

“Defensively was where we didn’t do too badly,” Paradis said. “We tried to give them different looks.”

By that time, junior Megan Gilbert had dropped all 12 of her points in a seven-minute span of the first quarter.

Gilbert nailed two 3-pointers in the opening minute.

“She sure helped us by hitting those shots,” Pellerin said. “I think that forced (Mt. Blue) to extend a little bit and guard our shooters. They’re a tough team to post up against, otherwise, but that opened it up for Jamie Nickerson, Alexa Bernatchez and our other post players.”

In addition to luring Mosher into foul trouble, Nickerson, Bernatchez and Devyn Curless-Clark combined for seven points and 14 rebounds.

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