ORONO, Maine —- The University of Maine and the University at Albany met in last year’s America East women’s basketball tournament championship game. The Great Danes emerged with a thrilling 59-58 victory that supplied them with their fifth consecutive conference title.
The fourth-seeded Black Bears (18-15) will try to avenge that loss on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2004 when the two teams vie for the championship again at SEFCU Arena in Albany, New York.
Second seed Albany is 20-11.
The teams split their regular-season games with the Black Bears rallying from an 11-point halftime deficit to post an 84-71 victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Jan. 22 before Albany responded with a 64-60 win in Albany on Feb. 18.
“We’re definitely going to have to play good defense and we’re going to have to attack their zone if they’re in a zone,” said UMaine senior guard and captain Sigi Koizar. “We have to be aggressive.
“We didn’t shoot well in that game (at Albany) and we made a lot of defensive mistakes. Their posts (post players) scored a lot of points,” added Koizar, who also feels they have to shut down high-scoring guard Imani Tate.
Albany outscored UMaine in the paint 36-16 after UMaine had a 38-36 advantage in the Bangor game.
Tate had 32 points in the Albany loss but was held to eight in the victory.
UMaine shot 37.1 percent from the floor in the loss and 54.4 percent in the victory.
“We have to do what we do best as individuals and, collectively, as a team,” said sophomore guard Tanesha Sutton.
“The thing that makes me happy is that we didn’t play well the second time we played them and we only lost by four points,” said UMaine freshman forward Laia Sole. “I’m really excited for the game.”