BANGOR — For the University of Maine women’s basketball team, Saturday’s 76-65 win over Albany wasn’t one of those wins that felt like a loss, but it certainly left the Black Bears knowing they have plenty of room for improvement.

“I thought our team played well for two-and-a-half quarters. We just didn’t really play well in that fourth quarter,” Maine coach Amy Vachon said. “We just have to find that consistency and we’ll be a really tough team.”

Ahead by 24 points late in the third quarter, Maine saw the Great Danes rally and cut the deficit to just six points with 3:03 to play. From there, the Black Bears regrouped and closed out the game with a 6-3 run to take the America East Conference win.

Maine is now 11-6 and 4-0 in conference play, its best start in America East since winning the league in 2004. Albany fell to 4-12, 1-2 in league play.

“When we score 65 and give up 76, that’s going to be tough for us. Our lull in the third quarter and not putting 40 minutes together hurt us,” Albany coach Colleen Mullen said.

A Tanesha Sutton jumper with 2:35 to play pushed Maine’s lead back to eight, 70-62, and Blanca Millan’s steal on the ensuing Albany possession effectively wrapped things up for the Black Bears, who recovered from what until then was a sloppy fourth quarter.

“Our defense wasn’t good at all that last quarter,” said Millan, who had 27 points and four rebounds.

Added Parise Rossignol, who scored 20 points for Maine: “We had opportunities to get layups we left out there. I think there was four times we should’ve got layups. That’s eight points we didn’t get.”

Maine had some trouble with Albany’s full court pressure, and when the Black Bears did break the Great Danes press, they missed open shots. Defensively in the fourth, Maine gave Albany too many open shots, and the Great Danes made them. An Amanda Kantzy 3-pointer with 3:03 left cut Maine’s lead to six points, 68-62.

“I thought Albany played really hard. It’s not surprising they don’t die. A lot of those kids won (conference) championships,” Vachon said.

Mullen praised her team for not quitting, adding the Black Bears are tough to defend. Mullen noted that Sutton (15 points) made a few tough shots with a hand in her face as the shot clock wound down. Maine makes you defend everybody on the floor, Mullen said.

“You’ve got to track a lot of people it spreads you out. I think they made some tough shots. I think Millan had the quietest 27 points. That kid is just so smooth,” Mullen said.

The Black Bears led 43-32 at the half, with ball movement a key against the bigger Great Danes. Maine opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run that appeared to put Albany away. The Great Danes scored just seven points in the third quarter, shooting 30 percent (3 for 10) from the floor. A 3-pointer by Sutton gave Maine a 58-34 lead with 3:11 to play in the third.

Six of Albany’s 17 turnovers came in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, helping the Black Bears extend their lead.

Kantzy led Albany with 14 points, while Heather Forster added 13 while going a perfect 6 for 6 from the field.


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