DURHAM, N.H. — The University of Maine women’s basketball team locked up the No. 4 seed in the America East tournament after it defeated New Hampshire 66-62 on Saturday afternoon.
Clutch free throw shooting and rebounding down the stretch propelled the Black Bears (16-13 overall, 10-6 in America East) who were led by Ashleigh Roberts’ 17 points and nine rebounds. Liz Wood chipped in 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals while Lauren Bodine and Mikaela Gustafsson each tallied eight points.
The Black Bears put together a 23-for-55 (41.8-percent) effort from the floor, including a 11-for-18 mark from 3-point range while outrebounding the Wildcats 38-33. The win was Maine’s first against New Hampshire since 2010.
New Hampshire (18-11, 12-4) was led by senior Kelsey Hogan’s 21-point effort.
Maine ended the first half strong, with a 5-0 spurt, all off Bodine makes, to take a 33-24 lead into the break.
New Hampshire used an 8-3 run at the start of the second half to bring the Maine lead down to four. However, Roberts and Wood each knocked down shots from beyond the arc to advance the Maine lead back to 10.
A 10-2 UNH scoring surge cut the Maine advantage all the way down to two before Anna Heise quieted the run with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Maine broke out a clutch 10-2 run to force its lead back to double-digits. Wood worked inside to create a 3-point play off a make and a foul. After a New Hampshire hoop, Maine held the Wildcats scoreless over a three-minute span as Gustafsson knocked down Maine’s 11th 3-pointer of the afternoon to start the sprint. Four fast-break layups from Roberts followed as the Black Bears’ lead grew to 57-47 with under four minutes to play.
UNH used a late 15-6 run to cut the Black Bears’ lead down to 63-62 with under a minute to play. However, a pair of clutch free throws from Roberts built the Maine lead back to three to secure the win.
Maine next plays at 8 p.m. Friday against Hartford in the America East tourney in Albany, N.Y. The two teams split on the season with each team winning on the road.