University of Maine womens basketball head coach Amy Vachon yells to the players during first half action of a game agains Fordham in Orono in December 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The University of Albany outscored the University of Maine 11-3 to close out the game and rally from a five-point deficit to beat the Black Bears 53-50 in an America East game at the McDonough Sports Complex in Troy, New York, on Saturday night.

Albany moved atop the America East standings with the win as the defending tournament champion Great Danes are now 13-2 in the conference, 19-10 overall.

They are half a game ahead of 12-2 Vermont.

UMaine fell to 9-5 in the conference, 13-13 overall.

The teams were playing in Troy because Albany’s SEFCU Arena is being renovated.

The Black Bears are still without reigning America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Anne Simon, who missed her eighth straight game after reinjuring her ankle.

Junior guard Kayla Cooper sparked Albany with a double-double as she tallied 19 points and 11 rebounds. She also had a pair of assists.

Senior forward Helene Haegerstrand had 17 points, four rebounds and three assists and graduate student guard Ellen Hahne contributed seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Sophomore forward Adi Smith poured in a game-high 22 points to lead the Black Bears. She also had seven rebounds and two steals.

It was her 12th game with at least 20 points this season, including five in a row and seven in her last eight games.

Sophomore guard Paula Gallego had 13 points along with two assists.

Windham freshman Sarah Talon came off the bench to score eight points.

Junior Caroline Bornemann chipped in with seven rebounds and two steals but the Black Bears’ third-leading scorer behind Smith and Simon managed only three points, six points below her average.

Smith’s layup with 4:13 left gave the Black Bears a 47-42 lead against the far more experienced Great Danes, who returned eight players who averaged more than 18.5 minutes of playing time a year ago compared with UMaine’s two, with the unavailable Simon being one of them.

Bornemann averaged 29.3 minutes a game last season.

Cooper’s two free throws cut the lead to 47-44 and, after Smith made one of two free throws, Haegerstrand drained a three off a Cooper pass.

Following a Smith miss, Hahne grabbed the rebound and Cooper converted a layup to give Albany the lead for good at 49-48 with 2:28 left.

Gallego missed a three, Albany grabbed the rebound and Cooper scored on a traditional 3-point play to make it 52-48 with 1:54 remaining.

A Smith layup made it 52-50 but the Black Bears never scored again and Hahne added a free throw in the waning seconds.

Albany led by six at the half but the Black Bears rallied to take the lead. UMaine trailed by as many as eight in the first half but outscored Albany 21-13 in the third period to take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

UMaine will host New Hampshire on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Gym and Binghamton on Saturday at 1 p.m. to close out the regular season. Albany will travel to the New Jersey Institute of Technology for a 2 p.m. regular season finale on Saturday.