NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Central Connecticut made three of its six free throws in the last 12 seconds Friday night to stave off a University of Maine rally and hold on for a season-opening 53-48 women’s basketball victory at Detrick Gymnasium.
Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears had trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half but battled back behind the play of sophomore guard Ashleigh Roberts.
However, UMaine missed 12 free throws in the second half and went only 12-for-27 (44 percent) in the contest to keep the Bears from completing the comeback.
“We did better with turnovers in the second half, but we missed a lot of free throws and layups,” Barron said. “We beat ourselves on a couple of things, some miscues defensively, that I can’t quite explain.”
Roberts finished with a game-high 16 points and added six rebounds to pace UMaine, but went 4-for-10 from the foul line. Senior guard Brittany Williams contributed nine points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Junior Corinne Wellington added six points and eight rebounds for the Bears, while junior Shareka Maner added four points, six rebounds and five steals.
Jaclyn Babe scored 16 points and added three assists and two turnovers to pace Central Connecticut. Lauren Arbogast added 10 points and Kirsten Daamen added nine points and six rebounds.
The Blue Devils committed 19 turnovers, but the Bears were only able to parlay those miscues into eight points.
UMaine committed 15 turnovers, including nine in the first half, and CCSU capitalized by turning them into 17 points.
The Bears mounted a second-half comeback and battled back to within two points at 46-44 on Maner’s foul-line jumper with 2:45 to play. UMaine then got within two points twice more down the stretch, but never was able to equalize.
“We were more aggressive in attacking the basket in the second half,” Barron said. “Eventually, you’ve got to produce. We had a lot of plays where we stole the ball pressing them and then missed the layups.”
CCSU led 40-29 on Arbogast’s layup at the 6:55 mark, but Roberts five points for UMaine during the next 29 seconds to make it 40-34.
The Bears later scored six unanswered points, including four by Williams, to make it 44-42, but they failed to score on their next two possessions and the hosts kept the lead.
“For what it’s worth, they know (it was a winnable game),” Barron said. “We’d like to get to a point where we don’t have to lose a game to learn a lesson.”
The Blue Devils led 27-18 at halftime after limiting the Bears to 29 percent (7-for-24) floor shooting.
The hosts responded by going 12-for-28 (43 percent) from the floor and outrebounding UMaine 20-15 in the first 20 minutes.
Each team committed nine turnovers, with CCSU turning UMaine’s miscues into 11 points. The Bears managed only four points off the Blue Devils’ turnovers.
A Samantha Baranowski basket had given UMaine an early 8-5 lead, but CCSU responded with an 11-2 run capped by a Danielle Davis 3-pointer that made it 16-10 with 9:38 to play.