The University of Maine women’s basketball team received a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Alba Orois and a crucial basket from sophomore forward Caroline Bornemann over the final 1:34 to erase an eight-point deficit and earn a gritty 48-46 win over Binghamton at the Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center in Vestal, N.Y., on Sunday.
UMaine’s fifth straight win improved the Black Bears’ record to 11-10 overall, 8-3 in America East. Binghamton fell to 5-14, 1-8 in losing its fourth in a row. The Bearcats have lost their last three games by a total of 12 points and are now 1-7 in games decided by single digits.
UMaine beat Binghamton 54-45 on Friday.
Orois’ 3-pointer came with 1:34 remaining and gave UMaine the lead for good at 45-44.
Bornemann then stole the ball and banked in a short jumper with 32 seconds remaining and the shot clock running down.
Denai Bowman answered with a jumper of her own eight seconds later. Orois sank one of two free throws with 18 seconds left to make it 48-46.
Cassidy Roberts missed a 12-foot jump shot that would have tied it and UMaine’s Anne Simon grabbed the rebound.
Simon was fouled but missed both free throws, giving Binghamton a chance to tie or take the lead but Hayley Moore turned the ball over and UMaine hung on for the win.
“I didn’t love how we played but I’ll take the win,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon to Learfield Sports/Black Bears Sports Properties/The Ticket 92.9 FM play-by-play man Don Shields.
“I’m really proud of the team. Playing three games in five days on the road is tough,” said Vachon.
Graduate student forward Maeve Carroll led the way for UMaine with 12 points, a game-high 14 rebounds as well as seven assists, two steals and a blocked shot. She was one of four Black Bears in double figures.
Bornemann had 11 points, seven rebounds, five steals and a blocked shot; junior guard Simon finished with 11 points and four rebounds and Orois had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Junior guard Bowman, who had a game-high 21 points in Friday’s loss to UMaine, again led all scorers with 17 points. She also had seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. Clare Traeger chipped in with 10 points and three rebounds.
UMaine trailed 36-28 with eight minutes remaining before going on a 12-2 run.
Carroll converted a pair of layups off passes from Simon and Orois to make it 36-32 before Simon and Bornemann nailed 3-pointers off passes from Paula Gallego and Orois, respectively, to supply UMaine with a 38-36 lead.
Roberts tied it with a layup, Simon answered with one before Bowman’s jumper tied it again at 40-40.
Jalyn Van Dyke and Simon swapped baskets before Birna Benonysdottir gave Binghamton its final lead with an inside jumper off a Roberts feed with 2:17 left.
Orois responded with her three 43 seconds later.
Vachon praised Binghamton for its play.
“They’re a tough team. I told our players their record isn’t indicative of how good they are. I hate playing against Denai Bowman. She is a really good player,” Vachon said.
The UMaine coach was elated with Carroll’s performance over the weekend. Carroll had been in a scoring slump prior to the series, averaging just 6.6 points in her previous six games before scoring 16 on Friday and 12 on Sunday.
“Maeve is back,” Vachon said. “These were two great games for her and hopefully it will lead to a great finish to her final year.”
UMaine’s win sets up a Wednesday showdown with Albany at the Memorial Gym in Orono (7 p.m.) as they battle for the top seed for the America East Tournament.
League leader and defending tournament champ Stony Brook is ineligible for the tourney because it is leaving the conference for the Colonial Athletic Association after this season.
Albany is 9-2 in the conference and in second place and has a one-game lead over UMaine. They will play again on Feb. 23 in Albany.
Vermont (7-4) is the only other team above .500 in league play.