BANGOR, Maine — University of Maine sophomore guard Julie Brosseau was having a forgettable afternoon during Sunday’s game against Albany to determine the America East regular season champion.
She was a dismal 1-for-9 from the floor entering overtime, including an 0-for-6 showing from behind the 3-point arc.
But Brosseau, who rattled a potential game-winning 3-pointer in and out of the cylinder as time expired in regulation, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 2:33 of overtime to help the Black Bears finish off a remarkable comeback from a 16-point second-half deficit to post a 74-69 women’s basketball victory.
UMaine, 20-9 overall and 13-3 in America East, will face the winner of Wednesday’s play-in game between the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and UMass Lowell in Saturday’s noon quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Defending six-time AE tournament champion Albany, 23-6 and 12-4, will take on seventh seed Vermont at 6 p.m.
Junior guard Tanesha Sutton turned in a terrific performance, scoring a game-high and career-high 27 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out five assists and making two steals. Dor Saar had 11 points and a game-high nine assists and Blanca Millan had 11 points and six rebounds before fouling out. Brosseau wound up with eight points and Fanny Wadling and Parise Rossignol combined for 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Jessica Fequiere finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds for Albany and Mackenzie Trpcic had 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Brosseau hit for her first 3-pointer right in front of the UMaine bench with 2:33 left in OT to make it 71-67.
Two Heather Forster free throws cut it to 71-69 and then Sutton, playing with four fouls, drew an offensive foul on Fequiere with 40 seconds left.
Twenty-nine seconds later, a wide open Brosseau sewed it up with an open 3-pointer from the left corner off a Sutton feed to the delight of the wildly-cheering throng of 3,140.
“It was a great pass by Tanesha,” said Brosseau who noted that her teammates and the crowd helped snap her out of her shooting funk.
“The energy in the crowd was crazy. My teammates were cheering and they kept telling me to shoot no matter what I had done in the past. So I took those shots with confidence,” she added.
What made UMaine’s comeback even more unlikely was the fact leading scorer and defender
Millan fouled out with 5:44 remaining and Albany still holding a 10-point lead.
But the Black Bears outscored the Great Danes 12-2 to force overtime.
Sutton scored six of the points by using her quickness against the slower Great Danes to drive the lane for a pair of layups and hit a short jumper in the paint.
“I just wanted to keep attacking them. If I didn’t have an open shot, I knew someone else was going to be open,” said Sutton.
Rossignol hit a 3-pointer during the flurry, Brosseau nailed a jumper for her first points of the game and Saar sank a free throw.
UMaine held Albany without a basket for the game’s final 11:19.
“Blanca is our best player and when she fouled out, we knew we had to keep pushing with the momentum we had,” said Sutton.
“Our defense got better,” said freshman point guard Saar.
“We felt we could make a run but we needed to get stops which we hadn’t done for a long time,” said Vachon.
“It was a heartbreaker,” said Albany coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “Maine played really well in the fourth quarter. They hit some big shots and the crowd was spectacular. It was like a sixth man for them.”
“We didn’t get stops when we needed to at the end of the game and that cost us the game,” said Fequiere, who was held to 10 second-half points on 2-for-6 shooting from the floor after going 5-for-8 in the first half.
Rossignol and Millan guarded her and got help from their teammates.
“They were aggressive. They didn’t let me touch the ball or use screens,” said Fequiere.
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