CASTINE, MAine — The University of Maine-Fort Kent has had some difficulty closing out games this season.
Sunday afternoon, facing a Saint Joseph’s team that had rallied to beat them on a buzzer-beater in Standish last month, the Bengals pulled it out.
Ashley Ames tipped away an inbounds pass with 1.4 seconds remaining, helping UMFK hold on for a 74-71 women’s basketball victory over Saint Joseph’s in the consolation game of the Maine Maritime Academy Mariner Invitational.
Coach Lucas Levesque’s Bengals (4-5) built a 17-point advantage, then made just enough foul shots in the last three minutes to get the win at Margaret Chase Smith Gym.
In Sunday’s championship, Endicott College of Beverly, Mass., beat MMA 72-60.
Endicott’s Nicole Duchesne was named the tournament most valuable player and teammate Ashley Wright was named to the all-tourney team. Other selections included Kristen Violette of UMFK, Tatum Welch and Katie Hutchinson of MMA, and Saint Joseph’s Meghan Daigle.
On Saturday, the Mariners edged the Bengals 50-45 and the Gulls beat the Monks 89-62.
In Sunday’s first game, UMFK refused to fold despite watching Saint Joseph’s put together a determined comeback in the second half.
The Monks (6-4) rallied to within two points (73-71) on an Alysn Ludwig rebound basket and Megan McDevitt’s 3-pointer off a turnover with 7.3 seconds left. However, Violette made one free throw and Ames tipped the ensuing inbounds pass to Amber Garrison to avert a potential game-tying shot.
“This is a big team win for us,” Levesque said. “It’s a situation where [Sunday], even though we made mistakes at the end, we maintained the energy level and the heart late in the game.”
Senior Ames of Dexter was an inside force for UMFK. The 6-foot-4 center scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
Ames scored her 1,000th career point in Saturday’s game.
“That was a nice accomplishment,” said Levesque, who also pointed to the play of Violette, a junior forward Fort Kent, as a key in complementing Ames.
Violette, who transferred from the University of Southern Maine, finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Shir Fuchs posted 13 points, six rebounds and five assists, Amber Garrison contributed 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and six steals and Maliesha Caesar added nine points and six boards for the Bengals.
UMFK built a 10-point lead in the first 6½ minutes behind scrappy man-to-man defense. Six different players scored for the Bengals, who went up 13-3.
Saint Joseph’s committed five turnovers during that span.
UMFK eventually extended its lead with good offensive balance and execution.
“I thought our spacing was a lot better offensively,” Levesque said. “[Saturday] we really struggled to recognize the defensive sets.”
The Monks eventually fought their way back into contention while wearing down the Bengals, who have limited depth. However, Saint Joseph’s let the deficit get to 17 points (45-28) early in the half and could not overcome it.
Daigle and Carolyn Freeman tossed in 13 points each and Kayla Nowell netted 11 more for the Monks.
In Sunday’s finale, Brittany Kelleher came off the bench to register 13 points and five rebounds as Endicott fended off second-half threats by Maine Maritime.
The Mariners (3-5) were playing without starting point guard Katie Pushard of Winthrop, who wasn’t with the team Sunday after her best friend died Saturday night in a car accident.
MMA tried to pull one out for their teammate and friend, but could not overcome 32 turnovers and 13 missed free throws against a solid Endicott ballclub.
The Mariners trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, but showed their resilience while keeping it close. Three Hutchinson foul shots and two more by Welch got MMA within 58-54 with 4:58 remaining.
The Gulls answered as post player Nicole Young buried a critical 3-pointer with 4:03 to play, then Kelleher swished a 16-footer and Kaylin Burke made two foul shots, all off MMA turnovers.
The surge put Endicott back in front by 11 and secured the victory.
Duchesne connected for a game-high 23 points, including a 10-for-10 performance from the foul line. Wright hit four 3-pointers on her way to 16 points and Kelleher finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought the difference in the game was No. 25 [Kelleher],” said MMA coach Craig Dagan. “She gave them the lift that they needed.”
Welch, of Newport, registered a double-double for MMA with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Kelsi Eiane of Harpswell scored 13 points, Hutchinson of Dixfield tallied 11 and Samantha Goda of Eliot chipped in with eight points and 12 rebounds.
The Mariners outrebounded the Gulls 47-25, but went 17-for-30 from the foul line where Endicott was 23-for-29.
(Saturday’s First Game)
UMaine-Fort Kent 45
Fuchs 4-2-12, Garrison 1-0-2, Bassue 1-0-2, Ames 6-2-14, Norsworthy 0-3-3, Violette 6-0-12, Melton, Caesar, Waltz
Maine Maritime 50
Hutchinson 4-1-11, Pushard 0-1-1, Goda 5-5-15, Eiane 1-0-2, Welch 6-1-13, Tilton 0-2-2, Cote 2-0-4, Stahl 1-0-2, Smith
3-pt. goals: Fuchs 2; Hutchinson 2
Halftime: UMFK 27-18
(Saturday’s Second Game)
Saint Joseph’s 62
Ludwig 2-0-4, Miner 1-0-2, Cartwright 1-0-2, Freeman 2-1-5, Daigle 4-5-13, Drake 0-2-2, Boston 2-0-4, McDevitt 2-0-4, Nowell 3-3-9, Geel 2-2-6, Fournier 4-0-11, Enright
Wright 7-0-18, Duchesne 7-7-22, Vitale 5-1-11, Burke 2-0-5, Young 1-3-6, Cosgrove 3-3-11, Kovach 1-0-3, Kelleher 5-3-13, Hewes, Petreyko, Cullen, Hefferman
3-pt. goals: Fournier 3; Wright 4, Cosgrove 2, Burke, Duchesne, Young, Kovach
Halftime: Endicott 52-31