ORONO, Maine — Anybody who was in Alfond Arena on Saturday afternoon felt it.
It was that glimmer of hope, when many surely thought the Black Bears could win the game.
University of Maine coach Richard Barron sensed it, too, after Courtney Anderson drained a 3-pointer that gave his team the lead with 8:49 to play.
“Courtney hit that 3, we took the lead and I called timeout. Maybe I’ll learn not to do that,” said Barron, who explained the move. He wanted to tell them “just keep this thing going, understand where we were. We scored one point after that.”
The Great Danes refused to allow the Black Bears seize the moment, outscoring UMaine 14-1 the rest of the way to register a 60-48 America East victory.
Senior forward Julie Forster scored 15 of her 16 points in the second half to make sure the Great Danes (10-8, 5-0 America East) remained unbeaten in conference play.
UMaine (3-14, 0-4 AE) suffered its 11th consecutive defeat despite a hard-fought effort. The Bears were again plagued by turnovers, committing 28 that led to 27 points by the Great Danes.
“It showed us the type of intensity that we can play with,” said senior Samantha Baranowski, who led UMaine with 10 points and eight rebounds. “We just have to tone it down mentally and play smarter.”
Forster, a former walk-on, was Albany’s go-to player in the second half. Her efforts, including 12 rebounds in the contest, helped Albany overcome foul trouble to top scorer Ebone Henry (five points in 18 minutes).
“I said forget it, if they’re going to switch (on screens) like that, we’re going to run set plays for Julie,” said Albany coach Katie Abrahamson Henderson, a former UMaine assistant. “Their guards can’t guard her down there (under the basket).”
Albany was without No. 2 scorer Cassandra Callaway, a senior guard, for the fifth straight game because of a hand injury. Lindsey Lowrie picked up the slack, scoring a game-high 19 points.
UMaine’s magic moment evaporated quickly after Anderson’s step-back 3-pointer and the emotion-induced timeout by Barron with the Bears leading 47-46 and 8:49 left.
It would be UMaine’s last field goal of the game. The Bears managed only an Ashleigh Roberts free throw at the 8:11 mark that made it 48-48.
UMaine committed six turnovers in the last 7:37 to help fuel a game-ending 12-0 run by the Great Danes.
“We just need to execute better on offense,” said UMaine freshman Kelsey Mattice, who scored 10 points. “Obviously, you can’t win with (28) turnovers and not scoring in the last eight minutes of the game.”
Henry put Albany in front for good on a low-post basket with 7:55 left. Two Forster foul shots and Tabitha Makopondo’s rebound hoop pushed the lead to six and UMaine never threatened again.
“I just told them I was disappointed for them because I thought they played not well, but played hard to give themselves a chance to be in this game and then gave it away,” Barron said.
Roberts scored 10 points in 12 minutes, eight of them from the foul line, and Anderson added seven for the Bears, who were again without senior Sam Wheeler, junior Amber Smith and freshman Becca Knight of Alfred because of injury or illness.
Either team might have changed the flow of the game with a better effort from the foul line. UMaine shot 63 percent (17-for-27), while the Great Danes shot 57 percent (17-for-30).
“We both went to the foul line an equal amount of times and we both shot terribly,” Abrahamson Henderson said.
The Bears outrebounded Albany 37-30 but managed only six second-chance points. UMaine scored just 12 points in the paint as compared to 22 for the Great Danes.
UMaine hopes to take a bit more confidence into Monday’s 6 p.m. home game against Vermont.
“It’s got to be encouraging,” Mattice said. “It’s better than we’ve played all season, at least the hardest we’ve played all season. It’s a step in the right direction.”