Christmas in Maine. Maybe you think of the Bush clan gathering in Kennebunkport. Maybe you think of shopping at L.L.Bean. Maybe...
Think again. Christmas in Maine also means the Augusta Women's Basketball Classic. Harvard, Maine, Georgia Tech and Howard will face off this weekend in the holiday season's newest addition to the tournament circuit.
The Crimson (5-2) will challenge Maine (2-4) in the first round in the fifth meeting between the two teams. Maine leads the series, 4-1, but Harvard has the momentum--not to mention stability.
Last year Harvard edged the Black Bears, 80-75. Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney Smith termed the game "one of my most enjoyable victories." Down by double digits at the half, the Crimson staged a steady comeback with a 3-2 zone defense that stymied the Maine shooters.
Maine enters the Augusta Tournament as a vastly different team. It has a new head coach, Patricia Roberts, and a new coaching staff. The Black Bears also lost three starters to graduation.
The Black Bears are plagued by internal troubles. Two assistant coaches resigned and three players quit the team this week, citing "philosophical differences."
Sophomore Rachel Bouchard powers Maine, averaging 20.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. In one game this season, Bouchard scored 44 points.
"[Bouchard] is one of the toughest players inside," Delaney Smith said. "The key will be stopping her from getting the ball. We will challenge the other players."
The dynamic play and leadership of Co-Captains Beth Chandler and Sarah Duncan has anchored the Crimson so far this year. Chandler leads the team with an average of 15 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Duncan comes off of a stellar effort against Vermont last Saturday. Fighting the flu, Duncan paced Harvard to a 57-51 victory with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Delaney Smith said Duncan is feeling better and will play in the tournament.
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