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Women’s Basketball Wins Regular Season America East Title

The University of Maine Black Bears women’s basketball team secured the America East Championship (AEC) regular-season title with a 63-46 win over the University of Albany Great Danes on Saturday in The Pit. This marks the seventh time in the last 10 years that Maine has reigned atop the American East Conference as the regular season ends.

UMaine entered the game with a 20-9 record, 13-2 in conference play, coming off a 57-51 win against Binghamton University. UAlbany entered the game with a 24-4 record, 13-2 in conference play, coming off a 45-40 win against the University of New Hampshire. Albany won the previous matchup 54-47 due to the Maine offense struggling, only shooting 28% from the field.

Fifth-year guard Anne Simon opened the scoring for the Black Bears, splitting a pair of free throws. Albany quickly responded with a three by third-year guard Lily Philips. Simon and fourth-year guard Olivia Rockwood made layups, assisted by third-year forward Adrianna Smith. The reigning AEC Player of the Year led Maine in the game’s assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

Smith scored her first bucket of the game a few possessions later, barely beating the shot clock buzzer. The Great Danes scored six unanswered points to put them up 11-9 heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter was all the Black Bears. A layup by second-year guard Sarah Talon sparked an 11-0 run by the Black Bears, which was capped off by a gross step-back three by Simon. Philips ended Albany’s scoring drought with back-to-back layups, but Maine’s offense continued to click. A last-second layup by fourth-year guard Caroline Bornemann off a beautiful backdoor feed by Simon gave the Black Bears their largest lead of the game at 10, heading into halftime up 28-18.

Neither team’s shots from behind the arc were falling, both teams only making one of their seven three-point attempts. What gave Maine the edge was their ability to score easy buckets off of cuts and moving the ball. Despite being outrebounded 21-10, Maine dominated the interior, scoring double the amount of points in the paint than Albany. 

Immediately after the break, Smith continued where she left off in the first two quarters, scoring on back-to-back Black Bear possessions. She and Bornemann scored all of Maine’s points in the third quarter. Fourth-year Kayla Cooper and Third-year guard Meghan Huerter did enough on the offensive side of the ball to stop UMaine from extending their lead, with Albany still trailing by 10 entering the final quarter of play.

With a quiet third quarter, Simon decided it was time to put Albany away in the fourth. The former AEC Player of the Year went on a 7-0 run by herself to put the Black Bears up 49-32. Fourth-year forward Helene Haegerstrand scored a difficult layup while being fouled, but it wasn’t enough to ignite a late rally for Albany. Smith then found Bornemann for a three and put the nail in the coffin with a tough and-1 with multiple Albany defenders draped over her.

Simon scored a game-high 25 points in her final regular season game played in The Pit. Smith stuffed that stat sheet with 23 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and three blocks. Bornemann was perfect from the field and added 9 points. Cooper tallied a 22-point double-double for Albany, and Phillips reached double digits with 11.

With the win, the AEC tournament and the road to the NCAA Tournament officially runs through Maine. The Black Bears are next in action on Friday when they host UMass Lowell in an AEC quarterfinals matchup.

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