ALBANY, N.Y. — The University of Maine outscored Albany 17-7 over the last 9½ minutes Thursday night and held on for a 61-58 America East women’s basketball victory at SEFCU Arena.
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s Black Bears (7-13 overall, 3-5 AE) demonstrated its determination down the stretch while winning its second straight game.
Kristin Baker of Bingham made the second shot of a double bonus with 13.7 seconds left and Katelyn Vanderhoff sank two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining to give UMaine the winning margin.
“Sometimes you have to just be gutsy,” Blodgett said. “It was an ugly ballgame for both teams. With about five minutes to go, I looked at the clock and I said, ‘you’ve got five minutes. The game’s tied. Our kids rose to the challenge and we got defensive stops. We did just enough to win.”
Sophomore Samantha Wheeler led UMaine, tying a career high with a game-best 18 points. Classmate Samantha Baranowski scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
“She [Baranowski] played great,” Blodgett said. “Everyone’s going to look at her points, but it was her rebounding, she had eight boards, and three steals.”
Vanderhoff also made a handful of key plays down the stretch, including two steals, a couple of defensive rebounds and the clinching free throws.
Ebone Henry tallied 18 points to lead Albany (7-13, 0-7 AE).
UMaine committed 14 turnovers in the first half, but had only five after intermission to help keep the hosts from getting into their preferred transition style.
UMaine led 30-28 at halftime, but Albany stormed out of the locker room to score 10 unanswered points to build a 38-30 advantage.
However, the Great Danes couldn’t sustain their momentum and the Bears answered with a run to get back into the contest.
Albany later extended its lead to seven points, but UMaine buckled down in the final 9½ minutes to earn the win.
The Bears built an early 12-point lead, but wound up holding only a 30-28 edge at halftime.
UMaine manufactured an 11-0 scoring run as the Great Danes clanged their way to 1-for-17 floor shooting to open the game. The Bears led 17-6 after two Baranowski free throws with to play in the half.
However, Albany changed the flow of the game with successful trapping pressure. The tactic helped force the Bears into several turnovers, which fueled the Great Danes’ dangerous transition attack.
The hosts quickly got back into contention with an 8-0 surge at the 7:02 mark.
UMaine later pushed its lead back to nine points at 28-19, but the Great Danes ended the half with a 9-2 run.
The Bears committed 14 first-half turnovers, while Albany had 10 of its own.