Amy Vachon has enjoyed many memorable victories in her 4 1/2 seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Maine.
However, she said Sunday’s 54-49 come-from-behind win at Stony Brook ranks among the best.
The Black Bears trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and were down nine early in the fourth quarter. But UMaine outscored the Seawolves 24-10 over the final 10 minutes, including an 11-0 run that gave it a 43-41 lead.
“I am so proud of this team,” Vachon said. “It was a gutsy win. We had no business winning this game. The way we shot the ball through the first three periods wasn’t good. But we shot 64 percent in the fourth quarter and held them to 10 points.”
UMaine, which shot 27.8 percent from the floor through the first three periods, made nine of 14 attempts in the final period while holding Stony Brook to 23.1 percent shooting.The Black Bears also forced four turnovers.
All four were steals by fifth-year senior guard Blanca Millan, who contributed only two points and three fouls in the first half but poured in 15 second-half points to finish with a game-high 17.
America East leader UMaine improved to 15-2 overall, 12-2 in the conference. Second-place Stony Brook, which beat the Black Bears 59-54 on Saturday, fell to 11-5 and 9-3, respectively.
UMaine snapped Stony Brook’s six-game winning streak after the Seawolves had ended their nine-game streak.
“We got stops in the fourth quarter and got some easy baskets. We struggled to score all weekend long but we got some turnovers off our press and got some easy layups. That really helped,” Vachon said.
To start the fourth quarter, the seniors vowed that they weren’t going to lose and they made good on their promise.
“They have a lot of pride. My dad [former Cony High of Augusta girls coach] said ‘you are only as good as your seniors’ and our seniors did a lot of good things today,” Vachon said.
Senior Dor Saar made a 3-pointer to trigger the 11-0 fourth-quarter run and a Millan steal paved the way for a jumper by senior Maeve Carroll to make it 41-37 with 6:32 left.
Another Millan steal produced two more points as Anne Simon rebounded a Saar miss and fed Millan for a layup. Millan’s steal and fastbreak layup tied the game, then her fourth steal of the quarter resulted in two Carroll free throws to give UMaine its first lead of the game with 4:51 to play.
Jonae Cox tied it with a layup for Stony Brook, but Millan sandwiched a basket off her own rebound and a 3-pointer around a Cox free throw. Carroll then hit a pair of short jumpers around two India Pagan free throws to make it 52-46 before Stony Brook’s Hailey Zeise nailed a 3-pointer with 1:04 left.
The Seawolves missed two potential, game-tying threes and Millan sank two free throws to ice it.
Millan finished with six steals and five rebounds while Carroll contributed 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Saar provided eight points and three steals, Fanny Wadling wound up with six points and six rebounds, Alba Orois scored five points and Simon chipped in with two points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Pagan’s 12 points, three rebounds and two assists paced the Seawolves. Asiah Dingle contributed 10 points and five assists and Cox had nine points and four rebounds. Anastasia Warren had seven points and five rebounds and Earlette Scott netted six points, five rebounds and two assists.
Zeise and McKenzie Bushee each corralled seven rebounds.
UMaine is scheduled to host New Hampshire on Saturday, while Stony Brook is slated to play Friday at UMass Lowell.