BANGOR — In a bizarre game featuring runs by both teams, the University of Maine women’s basketball team survived a 19-0 Hartford run in the first half and a 22-10 flurry in the second half to edge the Hawks 59-56 at the Cross Insurance Center on Monday night.
Tanesha Sutton’s driving layup with 23 seconds left gave the Black Bears a 57-56 lead and Blanca Millan blocked a Jade Young shot before Dor Saar converted a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining.
It was the seventh straight for the 16-8 Black Bears (9-2 in America East). Hartford fell to 14-10 and 6-5, respectively.
Young fed Kelly Douglass for a layup with 1:31 remaining to give Hartford a 56-55 lead and the Black Bears promptly committed their 28th turnover when Parise Rossignol’s pass went through the hands of Julie Brosseau.
But Darby Lee missed a jumper and Brosseau grabbed the rebound.
Sutton gave Maine the lead for good as she knifed down the right side of the lane and laid it in.
“It was a broken play,” said Sutton. “I saw the open lane and thank God it went in.”
After Millan blocked Young’s 3-point attempt, Sutton grabbed the loose ball.
A timeout was called and UMaine inbounded it to Saar, who fell down but was fouled as she was on the court.
She converted the free throws.
“They’re a good team. We were able to overcome some adversity,” said Millan, who finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, six steals and the all-important blocked shot. “
Brosseau also had 19 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. Saar chipped in with 11 points two rebounds and two assists and Kirsten Johnson came off the bench to supply UMaine with seven rebounds and two assists. Sutton had six points and five rebounds to go with three steals.
Lee finished with a game- and career-high 24 points and she also had a game-high nine rebounds to go with three steals. Young, Lindsey Abed and Alexia Douglas had nine points apiece. Young had a game-high six assists and Douglas grabbed six rebounds. Abed had three steals.
It looked as though the Black Bears were going to blow the Hawks out as they scored the game’s first eight points and built a 16-4 lead with 4:58 left in the first period.
But the Hawks went to full- and three-quarter court pressure and the Black Bears came completely unglued as the Hawks forced 15 first-half turnovers and reeled off a 19-0 run.
The Black Bears went a whopping 11:39 without a point until Millan rattled in a 3-pointer off a Brosseau pass with 3:23 left in the half.
That cut the lead to 23-19 and Millan followed that with an 11-foot pull-up jumper from the baseline.
Douglas nailed a 3 to make it 26-21 before two Millan free throws and her 14-foot jumper cut it to one.
But Young got the bounce on a runner as time expired to give Hartford a 28-25 lead at the intermission.
Lee had 14 first-half points and six rebounds. Young had six points and Douglas contributed five.
Millan had 14 points, two rebounds and two steals for the Black Bears. Brosseau had eight points, two assists and two rebounds. Johnson had six rebounds.
UMaine took better care of the ball in the second half and outscored Hartford 20-6 in the third period to build a 45-34 lead before the Hawks reeled off their 20-7 run.
“We went to the middle with the basketball instead of to the sides,” explained Millan.
Hartford coach Kim McNeill said UMaine is a, “tough team and if you’re going to beat them you’ve got to play tougher.
“We got off to bad starts in the first and third quarters and that hurt us. We just weren’t consistent,” said McNeill.
UMaine hosts New Hampshire at 7 p.m. Thursday.