The University of Massachusetts Lowell had never beaten the University of Maine’s women’s basketball team at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
But the River Hawks built a 13-point lead in the third quarter and received a clutch 3-pointer from freshman guard Ivory Finley with 59 seconds remaining to help them withstand a late UMaine rally and beat the Black Bears 60-55 on Wednesday night.
UMass Lowell had gone 0-10 against UMaine on the road and the loss left UMaine with a 2-7 home record this season, including one loss each in Orono and Augusta. That is UMaine’s worst home mark since the 2012-13 team went 2-8 en route to a 4-24 campaign.
UMass Lowell improved to 5-7 overall and 2-1 in America East while UMaine is now 6-10 and 3-3 including a 1-3 league record at the Cross Insurance Center.
UMaine shot a dismal 13.3 percent behind the 3-point arc (2 for 15) while the River Hawks went 6 for 18 (33.3 percent) from long range. It was the second fewest 3-pointers made by the Black Bears this season and came on the heels of a 15 for 24 performance against New Hampshire at the Cross Insurance Center six days ago.
UMaine shot 40.7 percent from the floor (24 for 59) but UMass Lowell shot 45.7 percent (21 for 46).
Junior forward Denise Solis’ 13 points and four rebounds and Finley’s 12 points and two steals paced UMass Lowell. Kaylen Banwareesingh produced nine points, six rebounds and two assists, Jaini Edmonds had eight points four assists and four rebounds, and Shamyjha Price added eight points and three rebounds.
Junior guard Anne Simon’s game-high 24 points, which came on 10 for 20 shooting from the floor, four steals and three rebounds, led UMaine. But the other four starters — Caroline Bornemann (2 for 10), Maeve Carroll (2 for 7), Alba Orois (2 for 6) and Paula Gallego (1-3) — went a combined 7 for 26 from the floor.
Orois did dish out eight assists but she also had five turnovers. She turned the ball over just 10 times during her previous seven games.
All-America East forward Carroll was held to four points and has been limited to 15 total points over her last three games.
Freshman forward Adrianna Smith came off the bench and provided a big spark, finishing with nine points, six rebounds and five assists to go with two blocked shots.
UMaine had separate scoreless stretches of 5:32 and 5:12 in the first half and went the first 3:14 of the second half without denting the scoreboard, enabling the River Hawks to parlay an 8-0 run into a 35-22 lead.
But Simon and Smith rallied the Black Bears to within 53-50 with 1:31 remaining.
However, as time was winding down on the shot clock, Edmonds handed the ball behind her to Ivory and Ivory launched a three from the right wing that sailed through the cylinder.
“[Edmonds] was about to drive for a layup but I had a wide open three. I knew there was one second left [on the shot clock] so I shot it,” said Finley, who was confident it was going to be good.
“I thought it was money,” she said.
“That was huge,” said UMass Lowell first-year head coach Denise King.
Simon responded with a 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining and UMaine was forced to foul.
Price sank one of two free throws to make it 57-53 with 22 seconds left but Simon converted a layup off a Smith pass to cut the lead to two four seconds later.
Edmonds made one of two free throws with 17 seconds left but when Bornemann grabbed Edmonds’ miss, UMaine had a chance to tie it with a three.
Orois drove to the basket with four seconds left instead of finding someone to take a 3-pointer. She wound up missing the layup, UMaine’s 10th missed layup of the contest.
“That was the coaching staff’s fault, not Alba’s,” said UMaine coach Amy Vachon.
King said her team was “locked in” and that she was “extremely proud of them, especially when Maine made a run at the end. They made the decision themselves not to quit and that they were going to win the game.”
Vachon was disappointed.
“We didn’t shoot well. We missed a lot of layups and we didn’t guard well defensively. It wasn’t a good game. And Lowell made plays,” she said.
“We had great shots but we didn’t make them. We missed open layups as well as threes,” Simon said.
“[Finley] hit a tough shot but that’s not why we lost the game. If we had played better, it wouldn’t have come to that.”