University of Vermont junior forward Anna Olson had a night to remember.
Olson, who had scored just a total of 11 points in her previous two games, poured in a game-high 21 points, including hitting six-consecutive shots spanning the third and fourth quarters to lead the Catamounts to victory over the Black Bears on Wednesday night at the Memorial Gym in Orono.
Vermont had lost 10-straight games to the University of Maine before its 61-52 win.
After trailing by one entering the fourth quarter, Vermont held UMaine scoreless for the first 7:18 of the period to build a 55-44 lead. UMaine scored only eight points over the final 10 minutes.
Vermont entered the game as the league’s best defensive team and the 21st-best defensive team in the country, allowing just 55.6 points per game. The team did an outstanding job contesting shots in man-to-man defense.
Vermont improved to 12-6 overall, 4-2 in the conference, while the Black Bears fell to 8-9 and 4-1, respectively.
Vermont extended its winning streak to four games while snapping UMaine’s at four.
Olson scored 17 of her points in the second half when she went 7-for-8 from the floor.
Delaney Richason had 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists for Vermont and Emma Utterback finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. Catherine Gilwee chipped in with seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
Anne Simon’s 17 points, five rebounds and three assists paced UMaine. Adrienna Smith, who scored 89 points in her last three games, was held to 13 to go with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Jaycie Christopher had 11 points off the bench and fellow freshman Sarah Talon had six points along with two rebounds and two blocked shots.
Starters Caroline Bornemann and Sera Hodgson failed to score, going a combined 0-for-7.
“We just came in here with nothing to lose. They had everything to lose because they hadn’t lost a conference game,” said Olson. “They’re obviously very tough competition, so we had to take it at them.
Olson said she felt it was important for her to attack the rim because in order for the team to be successful, there has to be an inside presence as well as an outside presence.
Olson was matched up in the paint with Smith and was able to get the better of the reigning two-time America East Player of the Week.
“I knew she was an amazing player. Our coach [Alisa Kresge] told us not to let her get the ball. Offensively, we tried to take it at her to get her into foul trouble or get her tired so it was harder for her on offense,” Olson said.
UMaine was leading 39-32 with four minutes left in the third quarter when the Catamounts went on an 11-2 run, including six points by Olson on moves in the paint. Gilwee hit a 3-pointer, and Maria Myklebust hit a short jumper.
UMaine’s Christopher nailed a three at the buzzer to give UMaine a 44-43 lead.
The Catamonts scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter to take a 55-44 lead while UMaine went 0-for-6 from the floor and turned the ball over three times.
Smith finally broke the drought with a layup with 2:42 remaining, but it was too little, too late.
“Vermont didn’t do anything differently in the fourth quarter,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon. “We missed shots, and they made them.”
Up next: UMaine will visit Binghamton University at 2 p.m. Saturday while Vermont will head to New Jersey Institute of Technology for a 7 p.m. contest Saturday.