BANGOR, Maine — The University of New Hampshire firmly established itself as the team to beat in the America East on Wednesday night as the more-experienced Wildcats scored the game’s first five points and led all the way en route to an impressive 65-57 victory at the Cross Insurance Center.
In snapping UMaine’s 21-game home winning streak in league play, the league-leading Wildcats improved to 22-4 overall and 12-1 in the conference. They are one win away from tying the school record for wins in a season.
UMaine fell to 15-14 and 8-6.
Junior center Carlie Pogue had 19 points and 10 rebounds to pace UNH, and Brittni Lai contributed 14 points and two assists. Olivia Healy added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Greene’s Kristen Anderson dished out six assists.
Sigi Koizar’s 19 points and game-high 11 rebounds led UMaine, and she also had three assists and three steals. Blanca Millan had 14 points, and Laia Sole scored 11.
“We took care of the ball and were able to get points in the paint. We got the ball into [Pogue],” said senior guard Anderson whose sister, Courtney, played at UMaine. “This was a big win for us.”
When the Black Bears double-teamed Pogue, that left UNH’s outside shooters open.
“They were the better team,” said UMaine associate head coach Amy Vachon, who is filling in for head coach Richard Barron while he remains on medical leave. “When we needed a stop, we couldn’t get it. When we needed a basket, we couldn’t get it. And I didn’t do a good job putting the right lineup out there.”
Vachon added that they dug themselves too big a hole.
UNH coach Maureen Magarity said her team has had problems turning the ball over lately, but she was pleased with the fact her team had 18 assists to just 12 turnovers.
“We made mental mistakes, and they scored points in transition. We also turned the ball over unnecessarily,” said Koizar. “But they have a real good post presence, and they also have good [outside] shooters who pass the ball well.”
UNH built a 37-24 halftime lead behind Pogue’s 13 points and Marist College transfer Lai’s seven points.
UNH rattled off a 12-2 run in the second quarter to turn a four-point advantage into a 32-18 lead.
Lai buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to trigger the run and, after Koizar answered with a basket, the Wildcats reeled off nine unanswered points on two inside baskets by Morgan Bassett-Smith, who had just entered the game; a Pogue basket from the paint off an Aliza Simpson pass and Kristen Anderson’s 3-pointer.
UNH shot 53.6 percent from the floor in the first half (15-for-28), and the Black Bears shot just 40.7 percent (11-for-27).
Healy’s layup to open the second half expanded the lead to 15, and the team swapped baskets until the Black Bears scored nine straight points to pull within six at 43-37.
Millan hit a jumper off an Anita Kelava pass and then nailed a 3-pointer off a Koizar pass before Kelava finished off a Wadling pass inside and Koizar sank a pair of free throws.
UNH closed out the third quarter with a 6-3 run to restore a nine-point lead (53-44).
The run was capped by Healy’s wide open layup off Anderson’s inbounds pass with a second left.
Healy had started the run by knocking home an offensive rebound and then she pass to Fogarty for a short jumper.
A pair of Koizar free throws cut the lead to 53-46, but a nifty spin move and basket by Pogue and a Lai runner sandwiched a Sole free throw to make it 57-47.
But Julie Brosseau’s 3-pointer and Koizar’s traditional three-point play pulled UMaine within four wth 4:33 left.
Cumberland’s Ashley Storey scored her only points of the game as she found herself alone under the basket and converted a Healy pass to make it 59-53.
Sole converted an inside move to cut it to 59-55, but Lai’s lefthanded layup and two Healy free throws sewed it up.