ALBANY, N.Y. — The University at Albany built a 15-point halftime advantage, then fended off a second-half challenge by the University of Maine to claim a 66-60 America East women’s basketball victory in the teams’ mutual regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at SEFCU Arena.
Melia Basavand scored all five of her points during a 14-4 run to end the first half that put the Great Danes in the driver’s seat.
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s Black Bears (4-22, 2-14 AE) wind up the regular season in last (ninth) place in the conference standings. That puts them in Thursday’s 6:05 p.m. play-in game against No. 8 Stony Brook (6-22, 3-13 AE) at the University of Hartford’s Chase Family Arena in West Hartford, Conn.
The winner meets top-seeded Maryland Baltimore County (19-10, 13-3 AE) in Friday’s 6:05 p.m. quarterfinal.
In Saturday’s game, Cassandra Callaway led Albany with 15 points, Ebone Henry tallied 14 points and nine rebounds and Julie Forster posted 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Albany prevailed despite 19-for-30 shooting from the foul line and 1-for-13 3-point shooting. The hosts outrebounded the Bears 38-32.
Junior guard Brittany Williams sparked UMaine with a career-best 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Ashley Roberts contributed 11 points and five rebounds, Amber Smith netted 10 points, Katelyn Vanderhoff chipped in six points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals and Tanna Ross of Newburgh added seven points and six assists.
The Bears committed 20 turnovers.
The Great Danes’ surge to end the first half was the difference.
Kate Cronin started the run with a foul shot, then hit a jumper after a UMaine turnover. Roberts countered with a jumper for the Bears, but Basavand and Felicia Johnson scored 17 seconds apart to make it a 10-point game.
UMaine’s Ali Nalivaika answered with two free throws but Foster hit a jumper and Basavant nailed a 3-pointer in a span of 39 seconds and Callaway scored again with 22 seconds left in the half to give Albany a 35-20 halftime edge.
The Bears twice trimmed the deficit to five points and eventually clawed within four (53-49) on two free throws each by Jaymie Druding and Roberts. However, Albany converted off consecutive turnovers by UMaine and was able to keep that lead at six or better from that point on.