BIDDEFORD, Maine — The University of New England saw its 15-point, 3rd-quarter lead reduced to just one, but held on to defeat Roger Williams University by a 64-59 margin in a battle of the top two women’s basketball squads in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) on Saturday afternoon at the Harold Alfond Forum.
In picking up their 10th consecutive win, the Nor’easters (16-5, 12-2 CCC) split the gap between them and the Hawks (16-5, 13-1 CCC) in the league standings with four contests remaining in the regular-season. The result put a halt to RWU’s 11-game unbeaten streak, which included UNE’s last setback (58-51) on January 5 in Rhode Island.
The hosts extended their 45-34 halftime advantage to its peak (49-34) before Roger Williams logged a 16-2 run in a span of 5:27 to rally back. However, after empty possessions for each side, a basket by Sam MacDonald (Lebanon, N.H.) slowed the momentum and gave UNE a 53-50 edge heading into the 4th frame.
A pair at the charity stripe by Anna Walther (Northampton, Mass.) had the Hawks within 59-57 with 1:36 to go. But the visitors could only get a layup from Walther at the 0:13 mark — in the middle of five UNE freebies — the rest of the way.
Both teams struggled to the finish, as RWU went 3-of-17 from the field in the final stanza, and the Nor’easters made 2-of-9 shots with seven turnovers.
MacDonald led the winning effort with 16 points and seven rebounds. Sadie Nelson (Windham, Maine) tallied 11 of her 13 points in the 1st period, and Alicia Brown (Greenland, N.H.) contributed 12 more. Olivia Shaw (Saco, Maine) — who grabbed a crucial offensive board in the waning seconds, helping UNE pad its cushion (63-57) — shared the team-high of seven rebounds, as Big Blue posted a 41-35 edge on the glass.
The Nor’easters overcame nearly twice as many turnovers (17) as the Hawks with 40 percent shooting from the floor, while holding Roger Williams to 31 percent on the day.
For RWU, Bridget Quilty (Duxbury, Mass.) scored all but two of her game-high 19 points prior to intermission, and added six rebounds and four steals. Mariah Nicholas (Acushnet, Mass.) tossed in 15 points and had a match-best eight rebounds off the bench. Walther closed with eight points and four assists.
Roger Williams gained a 9-2 lead out right of the gate, before Nelson’s boost pulled the hosts back even at 18-all through the opening session.
Then, trailing by one early in the 2nd, UNE separated itself (41-30) with a 21-9 stretch in the heart of the 2nd quarter. The Nor’easters connected on 59 percent during the 10-minute block, and MacDonald with Brown combined for 18 (10 and 8, respectively) of their team’s total in the frame.