BANGOR, Maine —- Good teams find ways to win games and that is exactly what the University of Maine’s women’s basketball team did Saturday afternoon to outlast Brown University 102-96 in overtime in a wild, back-and-forth affair at the Cross Insurance Center.
In posting their fifth straight win, the 7-2 Black Bears overcame a 12-point first-half deficit and a late fourth-quarter collapse. The determined and hot-shooting Brown Bears used a tremendous 20-4 run over the last 3 minutes, 54 seconds to erase a 16-point deficit and force the extra five-minute session.
And when Erika Steeves hit her seventh 3-pointer of the game to open OT, Brown had the momentum.
But junior guard Blanca Millan, who was honored before the game for becoming the 20th Black Bear to reach the 1,000 points, scored 10 of her game- and career-high 36 points in the overtime. UMaine outrebounded Brown 9-3 and the visitors shot 2-for-10, including nine straight misses after Steeves’ three.
“We knew we weren’t playing good and (overtime) was an opportunity for us to step up and show we can play much better,” said Millan.
“It was all about defense,” said fifth-year senior guard Parise Rossignol of Van Buren, who scored a career-high 25 points, 15 in the fourth quarter. “We had to get stops and we also got some huge rebounds.”
“It was a heartbreaker,” said emotional Bangor native Mary Butler, a Brown senior co-captain who finished with 13 points. “The last few minutes of regulation were really exciting. I was really proud of our team. We didn’t lay down. We continued to fight to the buzzer.”
Sophomore forward Maeve Carroll hauled in four of her six rebounds in the overtime and also blocked a shot for UMaine.
Following Steeves’ 3-pointer to open the extra session, Dor Saar fed Millan for a layup. Carroll then blocked a shot, Rossignol grabbed the rebound and got it to Saar, who passed to Millan for a 3-pointer to make it 93-91.
Saar missed a 3 but Carroll got the offensive rebound and scored off the putback to extend the lead to 95-91. Another offensive rebound by Carroll led to a Millan jumper and a six-point lead with 1:57 left.
Butler sank two free throws 18 seconds later to make it 97-93 but Millan made the first of two free throws and Sutton rebounded her missed second free throw.
Saar eventually canned two foul shots with 1:05 left to build the lead to seven and all but sew up the victory.
“After we hit the 3 in overtime, I thought were in good shape. But they’re a hard team to guard,” said Brown coach Sarah Behn.
She noted that when they paid special attention to Millan, somebody else would pick up the slack.
I’m proud of my girls and I’m proud of Mary Butler. I’m glad it was a good game,” Behn added.
UMaine head coach Amy Vachon was equally happy with her team while noting that the defensive effort left something to be desired.
“Up 16 with four minutes to play and, all of a sudden, you’re going into overtime; that’s a lot of momentum Brown had there. I’m proud of our team for overcoming that. We found a way to gut out a win,” said Vachon.
Millan had six assists, five steals and three blocked shots to go with her 36 points.
“I really can’t say much (more) about that kid. Her stat line was pretty impressive,” Vachon said.
During Brown’s 20-4 run to force overtime, the visitors went 7-for-8 from the floor and 5-for-5 beyond the 3-point arc with Taylor Will hitting three 3-pointers and Steeves nailing a 3 and the game-tying layup with 11 seconds remaining. Butler also had a 3.
UMaine missed its last seven shots, including five layups, and went just 4-for-8 from the free throw line.
Rossignol had seven rebounds and two assists to accompany her 25 points. Sutton contributed 21 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three assists. Saar had 10 points and a game-high 11 assists along with five rebounds. Maddy McVicar scored eight points and made two steals.
Steeves led 6-6 Brown with a career-high 30 points and she eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for her career. She also had a team-high 12 rebounds and three assists.
Justine Gaziano scored 15 points, Shayna Mehta posted 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, Butler (4 rebounds) and Will contributed 13 each and Traiva Breedlove had 11 points.
Brown shot a blistering 58.1 percent from the floor in the first half and led by 12 before 3-pointers by McVicar and Millan closed the gap to 45-39 at intermission.
The 45 points were the second most allowed by UMaine in a half this season.
Steeves, who entered the game averaging 7.9 points per game, had 14 points including three consecutive 3’s after UMaine had used a 12-2 run to pull even at 28-28.
UMaine visits North Carolina State next Saturday at 6 p.m.