MACHIAS, ME -- Few things in college basketball are tougher than winning on the road late in the season. Sometimes you need to win ugly. That is exactly what the University of Maine-Presque Isle women's basketball team did on Wednesday night in defeating the University of Maine-Machias, 45-41.
Taking on the Clippers (#17 USCAA Coaches' Poll), the Owls got off to a lackluster start missing layups early and finding themselves in a 7-point halftime hole, 26-19. UMPI did not get out of the gates any faster to start the 2nd half and were down 10 before starting a comeback. For the second straight game, Presque Isle used a stifling half-court defense to give themselves a chance.
The Owls (7-10) only allowed the Clippers (11-8) 15 points in the 2nd half. Their defense, after getting no steals and forcing 7 turnovers in the first half ratcheted up the intensity, collecting 8 steals and inducing 15 turnovers after the break.
"One of the things that stats won't show tonight was the play of Amber Cloutier (Fr./Lewiston, ME)," said head coach Marc Heidorf, "at a time where we looked flat and beat, she came in and started throwing her body around for loose balls on defense. That kind of play can be contagious and tonight I thought it was the difference."
Rebounding, an achilles heel for UMPI all season, became a strength on this night as they outrebounded Machias 38-29 including an 11-3 edge on the offensive boards.
Emily Pelletier (Jr./Fort Kent, ME) led the Owls with 15 points thanks in part to 4-6 shooting from behind the 3-point arc. Rashell Saucier (So./Washburn, ME) added 12 while ripping down a season high 18 rebounds.
With the win the Owls, who have now won 3 of their last 4, earned a season sweep over the Clippers.
UMPI will return home Friday to take on USCAA #21 UMaine-Fort Kent. Gametime at Wieden Gym is set for 5:30pm.