BANGOR, Maine — It took the University of Maine a period and a half to take control of Thursday’s America East women’s basketball game against a UMass Lowell team that had lost its last 11 games.
But the Black Bears outscored the River Hawks 16-2 to close out the first half en route to a 76-50 victory before a loyal group of diehards on a snowy evening at the Cross Insurance Center.
UMaine improved to 14-13 overall and 7-5 in the conference, and UMass Lowell fell to 3-22 and 0-12.
It was UMaine’s 20th consecutive America East home win.
The scrappy River Hawks were within eight when the Black Bears rattled off the 16-2 spurt to build a 45-23 halftime lead.
Anita Kelava had five points during the spree and Naira Caceres had four with Sigi Koizar contributing a three-pointer and Julie Brosseau and Laia Sole adding a basket apiece.
Senior guard Koizar had a game-high 16 points and hit four three-pointers to move into third place on the school’s all-time list for three-pointers with 174. She also had five assists and five steals.
Freshman forward Kelava had a career-high 14 points, and she also grabbed five rebounds and had three assists.
Sole had nine points, and Tanesha Sutton scored seven for the Black Bears. Brosseau contributed six points, three steals and two assists.
“Our defense is always our key,” said Koizar. “We try to be aggressive and get off to a good start. We try to get some steals and run.
“I also thought we were patient on offense,” she added.
UMaine scored 31 points off 24 River Hawk turnovers while the Black Bears committed just eight turnovers, and UMass Lowell had just three points off turnovers.
Kelava said that she had a little extra motivation.
“My sister Marta just had her birthday,” said Kelava, who felt the team turned in a solid all-around game.
Katherine Smith had a career-high 13 points for the River Hawks, and Kayla Gibbs also had 13 points to go with three assists and four rebounds.
Markayla Sherman had 11 points and five rebounds, and Megan Kendrick netted nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds along with three assists.
Koizar had 11 first-half points, including a 3-for-7 showing behind the 3-point arc, and Kelava had 10 including a 2-for-2 performance behind the arc.
Sole had seven points, Brosseau had six, and Sutton scored five.
Koizar also had three assists, and Brosseau had three steals.
Gibbs had seven points in the first half to lead UMass Lowell, and Smith had six.
The Black Bears scored the last seven points of the first quarter to build a 20-13 lead it would never relinquish.
Koizar triggered the spurt with a 3-pointer, and then she stole the ball and fed Fanny Wadling for a layup before Sutton capped it by muscling in an offensive rebound.
UMaine coach Amy Vachon was pleased with the victory.
“A lot of people contributed in different ways,” said Vachon. “Anita had a great game, and Sigi had one of her best games in a while. She was aggressive.”
She said her team played well defensively with the exception of a couple of UMass Lowell spurts.
UMaine will host Stony Brook at 1 p.m. Sunday.