The University of Maine women’s basketball team put an exclamation point on its America East regular-season championship Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym in Orono.
The Black Bears strung together 11-0 and 17-0 runs in the first half to build a 27-point halftime lead and cruised to an 82-53 victory over the University of New Hampshire.
The Black Bears closed out the regular season at 16-2 overall, 13-2 in America East, and will receive a quarterfinal-round bye in the now six-team conference tournament. Binghamton on Friday became the fourth team to halt its season because of COVD-19 issues.
UNH (5-14, 5-11 AE) is the No. 5 seed for the tourney.
UMaine is 11-2 on the road and has won all five of its home games.
“I am really proud of this team,” UMaine coach Amy Vachon. “Stanford is the only team that has more road wins. It’s never easy.”
On Jan. 2, UNH used a game-ending 7-0 run to erase a six-point deficit and snap UMaine’s 15-game winning streak, 58-57, in Durham, New Hampshire.
UMaine won 76-56 the next day.
On Saturday, Blanca Millan (2 steals) and Anne Simon (3 steals, 2 assists) led the way for the Black Bears with 21 points and nine rebounds each.
Maeve Carroll contributed 12 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. Kelly Fogarty tallied 12 points and Dor Saar produced six points, five rebounds and four assists while becoming the first player in school history with 1,000 points and 500 assists in a career.
Vachon said she was encouraged by her team’s offensive output and noted that shooting was a point of emphasis in practice this week after the Black Bears shot just 34.8 percent in last weekend’s split at Stony Brook.
Amanda Torres posted 16 points and three rebounds for UNH. Ivy Gogolin added 14 points and four rebounds. Adara Groman had eight points and five rebounds and Sanford’s Paige Cote had four points, four rebounds and three assists. Helena Delaruelle grabbed nine rebounds.
UMaine used its 11-0 run in the first quarter to transform a 13-9 lead into a 15-point advantage. Fogarty’s 3-pointer started the flurry with 2:15 left in the period and Abbe Laurence converted a layup off a Simon feed. Saar’s 3-pointer and a conventional three-point play by Millan capped the run.
UNH used a 7-2 spurt to pull within 10 early in the second quarter but UMaine went on its 17-0 run to put the game away.
The Black Bears held UNH scoreless for almost seven minutes.
Millan had a pair of baskets during the decisive surge, Carroll sank four free throws, Simon and Fogarty each contributed a 3-pointer and Alba Orois converted a conventional three-point play.
UNH Coach Kelsey Hogan called UMaine a “great team” and said that her team was “tired” during UMaine’s decisive 17-0 run in the second period.