It was a solid effort by the University of Maine on Saturday afternoon, but not one good enough to beat the four-time defending America East champions.
Senior forward Shereesha Richards torched the Black Bears for 34 points, nine rebounds and four steals to lead the University at Albany to a 64-59 women’s basketball victory at SEFCU Arena in Albany, New York.
Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears (12-7, 3-1 AE) hung with the Great Danes, but could not consistently contain Richards.
“She’s tremendous and she deserves all the accolades she gets,” Barron told Don Shields of the Black Bear Sports Network.
She’s an incredible athlete and that’s why it’s not just the person who’s matched up with her, it’s are you allowing that pass, are you giving an appropriate amount of ball pressure,” he explained.
Imani Tate tossed in 17 points and Zakiya Saunders posted eight points and nine assists for UAlbany (13-3, 4-0 AE), which shot 47 percent (25-for-53).
Junior guard Sigi Koizar paced UMaine with 17 points, six rebounds and three assists and Mikaela Gustafsson contributed 16 points, four rebounds and two steals. Bella Swan provided nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Sophie Weckstrom netted eight points and Liz Wood chipped in with six points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Black Bears shot 42 percent (19-for-45) and outscored the hosts 15-12 from the foul line.
“I’m frustrated in that I think we let one get away that we could have won,” he said.
“I think we’ve got to be better than we were today. I expect us to execute better and pay attention in timeouts and to know the game plan and execute it,” Barron added.
Down 30-22, the Black Bears opened the second half with a 12-2 run behind five points from Koizar to take a 34-32 lead. However, UAlbany manufactured an 11-2 run to end the quarter and go on top for good.
UMaine led 39-38 when Tate sank two free throws, then converted a conventional three-point play that gave the Great Danes a four-point edge. Richards scored from underneath on the front end of another three-point play, then answered a layup by Swan with a layup and a pair of free throws to give UAlbany a 50-41 lead after three quarters.
“Our execution was crisp to get the lead and we had a chance to build it and all of a sudden we foul four times in a row and put them at the line and they make free throws,” Barron said.
UMaine got as close as four (56-52) on a Gustafsson layup with 3:34 to play, but Tate hit an eight-footer from the lane after a UMaine shot-clock violation and made a steal that led to a Richards close-range hoop as the Great Danes pushed the advantage back to 60-52 with 1:58 left.
UMaine stays on the road in preparation for Monday’s 3 p.m. conference clash at New Hampshire.