Depth, fatigue key factors in UMaine women’s Sunday semifinal vs. Hartford

The University of Maine women's basketball team goes through pregame warmups prior to Saturday's America East quarterfinal against Binghamton at Vestal, New York. The Black Bears advanced, beating the Bearcats 78-71. Maine takes on Hartford at 2 p.m. Sunday in the semifinal round. (Photo by Pete Warner/BDN)

The University of Maine women’s basketball team goes through pregame warmups prior to Saturday’s America East quarterfinal against Binghamton at Vestal, New York. The Black Bears advanced, beating the Bearcats 78-71. Maine takes on Hartford at 2 p.m. Sunday in the semifinal round. (Photo by Pete Warner/BDN)

Daylight Savings Time may have come at an inopportune time for the teams competing Sunday’s semifinal round at the America East Women’s Basketball Championship in Vestal, New York
The top-seeded University of Maine takes on No. 5 Hartford in a 2 p.m. game that marks a fairly unusual back-to-back games scenario.
First, the Black Bears didn’t exactly have a cakewalk in Saturday’s 78-71 quarterfinal win over host Binghamton. Coach Richard Barron used 10 players in the game, but three played six minutes or fewer.
In fact, all-conference performer Liz Wood played all 40 minutes and Sigi Koizar logged 39-plus, while Mikaela Gustafsson played 35 minutes. Their season averages are 36.5, 33.5 and 19.2, respectively.
Now, they must turn around in a span of about 19 hours prepared to go the distance against Hartford.
The Black Bears do have the benefit of the longest rest, having played the noon game on Saturday, while the Hawks wrapped things up a little before 4 p.m.
Hartford also played primarily seven players, with point guard Deanna Mayza leading the way at 38 minutes, followed by guards Amber Bepko (36) and Morgan Lumb (33).
Sunday will mark only the second time this season that UMaine has played on back-to-back days. The Black Bears did so during their Thanksgiving tournament in Bangor, beating Brown 58-53 on Nov. 29, then edging Boston College 69-64 in overtime a day later.
However, UMaine has endured a long season since, including fighting to win the America East regular-season title with late-season victories over Albany, Hartford and Stony Brook.
That said, Hartford has encountered the consecutive days scenario three times this season. The Hawks participated in a tournament at Cancun, Mexico, where they played three straight games Nov. 27-29. They lost all three, including games with Washington and Florida State.
Hartford had another back-to-back Dec. 29-30 in the Fordham tournament in which the Hawks dropped the first game but won the second.
On Sunday, both teams likely will have to rely on their considerable depth to ensure a high level of performance across the board.
UMaine can comfortably go nine deep in its normal rotation with Wood, Koizar, Gustafsson, Sophie Weckstrom, Bella Swan, Anna Heise, Chantel Charles, Courtney Anderson and Lauren Bodine. Heise played only six minutes on Saturday, while Bodine saw nine minutes and Charles three.
I would anticipate each will make greater contributions against Hartford.
The Hawks also have plenty of options and can call on at least nine players to provide quality minutes.
Even though adrenaline will carry most of the players for a good portion of Sunday’s game, three factors will be critical.
First, the team that is in the best physical condition will have the upper hand. However, the team that best managed its sleep and nutrition on Saturday night, and the coach who finds the personnel groupings that can maintain a consistent level of energy and execution, who earns a spot in next Friday’s conference championship game.

Pete Warner

About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 32 years, Annia. They have two adult sons, Will and Paul. Pete is fluent in Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbies including hunting, fishing and listening to jazz.