ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Tanesha Sutton scored eight of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the University of Maine women’s basketball team (3-2) to a 58-52 victory over North Carolina A&T on day one of the Navy Classic.
Tied at 41 after three quarters, Maine opened the fourth with a 14-3 and went on to outscore the Aggies 17-11 in the final quarter to seal the non-conference win. The match-up featured constant back-and-forth action as the two teams combined for 15 lead changes and 10 ties.
Despite being outsized inside, with Fanny Wadling and Maeve Carroll missing the game due to injuries, thus losing the rebounding battle, Maine’s defensive pressure force the Aggies to turn the ball over 23 times. The 23 turnovers forced were a season-high for Maine’s defense, which held a 23-12 advantage over NC A&T in points off turnovers. Maine, which tallied a season-high 13 steals, was led on the defensive end by Dor Saar’s career-high five steals.
Six of the 15 lead changes came in the first quarter as Maine carried a slim, 16-15 lead into the second quarter.
Neither team was able to distance itself in the first half, with the largest lead of the opening 20-minutes being just five points. The five point lead was credit to the Black Bears, who were able to build the advantage thanks to a 7-2 run at the midway point of the second quarter. Rossignol knocked down a jumper before forcing a steal and sending a pass along to Millan, who cashed in on the offensive end. The run continued on back-to-back buckets from Sutton, giving Maine a 25-20 advantage.
The Aggies answered, ending the half on a 9-2 run to take a 29-27 lead into the break.
After a scoreless opening three minutes in the third, Sutton’s two free throws tied the game before Kelly Fogarty’s triple regained a one-point edge for Maine. Just moments later, after NC A&T snatched back a one-point lead, it was Fogarty with another 3-pointer, putting Maine back on top, 37-35.
The game would enter the fourth knotted at 41-all and remain tied, 47-47, with 6:51 remaining in regulation.
Maine’s grit and determination was on full display late in the fourth as the Black Bears were able to string together a late 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the game. Maddy McVicar, who earned her first collegiate start against the Aggies, found Millan for a pair to start the sprint. Two three-point field goals from Sutton followed as Maine’s lead stretched to 55-47 with 3:53 to play.
Clutch free throw shooting, coupled with a strong defensive effort down the stretch, helped Maine lock up a 58-52 win.
The Black Bears close play at the Navy Classic on Sunday when they meet Penn at 3:15 p.m.