University of Maine’s Tanesha Sutton, left, battles for the rebound with Duke University’s Onome Akinbode-James (24) as Duke’s Haley Gorecki (2) looks for the scraps at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

BANGOR — Before Thursday’s game, the University of Maine women’s basketball team honored Stacey Porrini Clingan. A key player for the Black Bears in the mid-1990s, Porrini Clingan died on March 27 following a battle with cancer. She was 42.

Then, against ACC powerhouse Duke, the Black Bears honored Porrini Clingan more, by playing with the hustle and tenacity she displayed in her four years at Maine. While Duke left the Cross Insurance Center with a 66-63 win, nothing came easily for the Blue Devils.

“I just know our team and our fight,” Maine head coach Amy Vachon said. “I just can’t be more proud of our kids. We believe we can beat everyone we play.”

Maine is 2-1, Duke is 1-1.

Duke led by 11 points with just over four minutes to play, but the Black Bears rallied, cutting the Blue Devils’ lead to two points on a Tanesha Sutton layup with 28 seconds left. Duke’s Haley Gorecki missed a pair of free throws with 24.5 seconds left, but a Sutton miss at the other end maintained Duke’s two-point lead.

With 13.4 seconds to play, Jade Williams made the second of two free throws to give Duke a three-point cushion. Dor Saar’s three in the final seconds went off the front rim, preserving the win for Duke.

“I thought we made some of the bigger plays at the toughest times,” Duke coach Joanne McCallie, who coached Maine for eight seasons from 1992 to 2000, said. “I’m proud of our team for our blue-collar effort. … Teams don’t go away. You have to make teams go away.”

It was fitting to honor Porrini Clingan on this night, with the McCallie-coached Blue Devils the opponent. McCallie remembered Porrini Clingan as the first player she recruited to the University of Maine women’s basketball team.

“She was a glue person for our team,” McCallie said in a message played on the Cross Insurance Center videoboard before the game.

A 1997 UMaine graduate, Porrini Clingan ranks 17th on Maine’s all-time scoring list with 1,128 points, fifth in rebounding (929), and still holds the Black Bears record for blocks in a game, with seven.

Porrini Clingan was a member of the 1995 Maine team that was the first in program history to advance to the NCAA tournament. She was a three-time all-conference selection.

Vachon, a teammate of Porrini Clingan’s for one season, presented Porrini Clingan’s framed jersey, number 32, to her family. Porrini Clingan’s son, Donovan, wore his mother’s jersey during the ceremony.

Maine struggled shooting the ball in the first quarter. The Black Bears were 3 for 17 from the field, including 0 for 8 from 3-point range. The rest of the game, the Black Bears found their shot, finishing the game making 44.3 percent from the field (27 for 61). Maine hung around by outhustling the bigger Blue Devils to the boards, outrebounding Duke 33-27, with 12 offensive rebounds.

“At one point we didn’t have a kid over 6 feet in there,” Vachon said. “We told our kids, crash the boards.”

Gorecki had 21 points and a career-high 10 assists, making big shots throughout the game to keep Duke ahead.

Blanca Millan had a game-high 25 points, while Sutton added 14 points and Saar 11 for the Black Bears.

University of Maine head coach Amy Vachon coaches from the sideline in the first quarter against Duke University at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

Duke University head coach Joanne McCallie calls out plays from the sideline against the University of Maine at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

Duke University head coach Joanne McCallie talks to her team during a timeout against the University of Maine at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

University of Maine head coach Amy Vachon talks to her players during a timeout in the first quarter against Duke University at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Thursday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)