Bangor, Maine — Behind Tanesha Sutton’s career-high 27 point effort, the University of Maine women’s basketball team completed a 16-point comeback to defeat UAlbany, 74-69 in overtime, to capture the America East regular season championship in front of 3,140 fans at the Cross Insurance Center.
The victory earned Maine (20-9, 13-3) the No. 1 seed in the 2018 America East Championship. The Black Bears will play the winner of UMass Lowell and UMBC’s, who will compete in the play-in game on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. Maine’s quarterfinal match-up will take place at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine on Saturday, March 3 at 12 p.m. For tickets, please visit CrossArenaPortland.com. The title, Maine’s first outright championship since 2004-05, is the Black Bears’ conference-best 15th title and their third in the last four years.
Maine, which trailed by 16 with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter, outscored UAlbany 31-15 down the stretch to send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, the Black Bears held UAlbany without a field goal as they were able to capture the 74-69 victory. Maine took its first lead of the day when Parise Rossignol knocked down a corner trey with 1:32 left in regulation.
Sutton, who finished the game 11-for-13 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the free throw stripe, added seven rebounds and five assists to her career-best scoring output. Blanca Millan stretched her double-figure scoring streak to 28 straight after tallying 11 points and six boards while Dor Saar chipped in 11 with a career-best nine assists in a team-high 42 minutes.
The Black Bears finished the game 27-of-62 (43.5) from the floor, outscoring UAlbany 34-18 in the paint while hitting 13-of-15 free throw attempts.
Maine’s defense forced 20 Great Dane turnovers and held UAlbany to just 2-of-14 from the floor over the final 15 minutes. The Great Danes did not hit a field goal over the final 11:19 of action.
The Great Danes, who hit each of their first five three-point attempts, raced out to an early 12-3 lead. Maine responded with a 7-0 run, capped on a triple from Saar, to trim the lead to two.
UAlbany ran its lead back to nine late in the first. Maine continued to chip away, cutting the lead down to five in the second before two Sutton free throws and a layup from Fanny Wadling brought the Black Bears back to within one.
The Great Danes ended the half on a 7-0 run and began the third period with a 14-6 run as they were able to take their largest lead of the contest (16) with 4:11 left in the third.
Maine was able to chip the lead down to nine late in the third but a UAlbany responded, running the lead back to 14 after a short 7-2 run carried over to the fourth quarter.
The Black Bears began their comeback with back-to-back buckets from Millan and a layup from Sutton to complete a 6-0 run. Millan would foul out of the game with 5:44 remaining. Two free throws from UAlbany ran its lead back to 10.
Despite losing Millan, the Black Bears remained composed and were able to rally off 11 unanswered points, ultimately taking their first lead of the afternoon. Six points from Sutton powered the run, cutting the UAlbany lead down to a pair, before Rossignol’s triple put the Black Bears on top by one, 65-64, with 1:32 on the clock.
A pair of free throws from UAlbany’s Jessica Fequiere regained a one point lead for the Danes.
Wadling’s defensive board off a jumper from Fequiere gave Maine life late. Saar drove the lane, drawing a foul with 39-seconds remaining. She would knock down the first of her two, tying the game.
Strong defense from Maine led to a turnover by Tiana-Jo Carter. Following two, 30-second timeouts, Maine was able to get the ball in Brosseau’s hands for a last second shot from the top of the key. The shot would clang around the rim and out, sending the regular season championship contest into overtime.
A UAlbany free throw put the Danes back up by one but Saar’s pair of free throws on Maine’s next possession gave Maine a 68-67 advantage.
Just under two minutes later, Sutton’s handoff to Brosseau in front of Maine’s bench allowed for Brosseau to stick a triple, extending Maine’s lead to four.
Two free throws by UAlbany chipped the lead to a pair. Neither team would score on its next two possessions but a turnover by Fequiere gave the ball back to Maine with 40-seconds on the clock.
Sutton’s quick one touch pass from the foul line out to Brosseau in the corner allowed the sophomore to cash in on another trey. A last second triple by the Great Danes would fall short as the Black Bears captured the contest, and the regular season title, with a 74-69 decision.