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Black Bears hand New Hampshire first home loss, extends winning streak to three

The University of Maine women’s basketball team (13-8, 6-2) rode an 11-1 fourth quarter run to defeat the University of New Hampshire Wildcats (14-7, 5-2) by a 56-46 score from Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, NH on Wednesday. Second-year guard Blanca Millan led the surge, scoring six points of the 11 to finish with 16 on the game.

Second-year forward Fanny Wadling would start the scoring for the Black Bears with a little jump shot, but UNH would go on a mini-run, scoring the next six points. Wadling and redshirt third-year guard Tanesha Sutton would lead the Black Bears to a 9-0 run to give them a little separation.

The Black Bears would build up a double digit point lead at 30-19 with 4:08 to go in the first half when the Wildcats made things interesting, going on a 7-1 run to close out the half down by five.

Maine shot well from the field, going 50 percent overall, but struggled from three point range, going 2-7. New Hampshire won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding the Black Bears 18-10. Maine won the turnover battle, forcing 11 while committing just four.

Both teams went tit for tat in the third quarter. Maine built their lead back to 11 with a pair of free throws from second-year guard Julie Brosseau before the Wildcats came clawing back on the strength of a 9-1 run, cutting the deficit down to 43-39 heading into the fourth.

New Hampshire would tie the game at 43-43 with a pair of free throws from fourth-year center Carlie Pogue with 7:53 to go in the quarter. A fast break layup by Sutton gave the Black Bears the lead, but Pogue would answer with another jumper. Millan would take over from there, scoring six straight points for Maine.

The Black Bears finished the game shooting 43.1 percent from the floor, including a paltry 20 percent from three point range. The Wildcats held the edge in rebounds at 35-30, as well as second chance points at 11-6. Maine’s defense played airtight, forcing 18 turnovers to their 10, and outscoring the Wildcats 17-13 on the takeaway. New Hampshire finished the night shooting 32.6 percent.

On top of Millan’s 16 points, Sutton and Wadling both finished in double figures with 15 points and 14 points respectively. Wadling also pulled down 10 rebounds to finish with her first double-double as a Black Bear. Pogue was the only Wildcat to finish in double figures, leading all scorers with 22 points.

According to their Twitter page, during their current winning streak, they have trailed for just two and a half minutes while commiting 7.7 turnovers per game.

New Hampshire will be at home to take on the Binghamton University Bearcats on Saturday, Jan. 27, with the opening tip set for 1 p.m.

Black Bears demolish Retrievers to keep streak alive

Excellent defense and clutch shooting gave Maine their fourth straight win, a 69-36 shellacking of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) (2-19, 1-7).

The only time the Retrievers were in the game came with 7:36 left in the first quarter, when Millan was called for a foul on first-year forward Janee’a Summers, who made her layup and sank the following free throw to knot the game up.

From that point on, the Black Bears dominated the quarter, going on a 13-2 run where UMBC would not score for another four minutes.    

The second quarter was only marginally better for UMBC, as they were able to put up 11 points, including six on a pair of three pointers by second-year guard Allison McGrath. Unfortunately for the Retrievers, Maine also shot well in the second, putting up 20 on the quarter to build up a 36-16 lead into halftime.

Brosseau led all scorers in the first half, going four for eight from beyond the arc and two for two from the free throw line to tally 14 points. Maine outshot UMBC 41.3 percent to 20.8 percent. The Black Bears outrebounded the Retrievers 20-18, and ran away with points off turnovers in the first half, 12-0.

Neither team had could get anything going in the third quarter. After Maine’s lead reached 41-16, UMBC went on to score seven unanswered points and brought the score to 41-23 before Wadling gave Maine a spark.

“In the third quarter, we were getting good looks but we weren’t making the shots. We talked about shooting with confidence and in the fourth quarter we did exactly that,” Head Coach Amy Vachon said.

As well as the offense played, the defense was critical for setting the table. This has been true over the streak, as Maine is giving up just 45 and a quarter points per game.

“We’re forcing teams to commit a lot of turnovers and we’re creating our offense off of that. It’s great for us,” Sutton said.

Maine would finish the game shooting an impressive 42.4 percent from 3-point range, making more three pointers than UMBC would make in combined shots.

“They’re a great three point shooting team. We run their offense, knew that we didn’t want to let in any back door stuff, and unfortunately, that sets up a lot of open three point opportunities.They hit some big threes at times we could not afford it,” UMBC Head Coach Phil Stern said.

The Black Bears can extend their streak to five games on Wednesday, Jan. 31 when they take the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Riverhawks down in Lowell, Mass. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. UMBC will look to avoid their 20th loss of the season when they battle Stony Brook on Wednesday at 7 p.m. from the Retriever Activities Center in Baltimore.

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