Anne Simon and Adrianna Smith hug after helping the University of Maine women's basketball team defeat Binghamton in the first round of the America East playoffs on Wednesday, March 1. Credit: Adam Robinson / BDN

The University of Maine women’s basketball team used a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to build a 10-point lead and Binghamton couldn’t get any closer than six the rest of the way as the third-seeded Black Bears earned a hard-fought 64-54 win over the sixth-seeded Bearcats in their America East quarterfinal on Wednesday at the Memorial Gym.

UMaine, now 16-13, will travel to take on second seed Albany, 21-10, in a Sunday semifinal in Troy, New York.

Binghamton, which had lost a pair of four-point games to UMaine during the season including a 69-65 contest on Saturday, concluded a 13-17 campaign.

All-America East second team selection Anne Simon poured in a game-high 24 points for UMaine and also grabbed nine rebounds. League Player of the Year Adi Smith had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists and Olivia Rockwood had 11 points off the bench.

Smith’s double-double was her 16th of the year.

Paula Gallego produced seven points and five assists. Caroline Bornemann had five points and four rebounds.

Genevieve Coleman and All-AE second team guard Denai Bowman had 16 points each for 13-17 Binghamton and All-Rookie teamer Jadyn Weltz had 14. Coleman had six rebounds and Weltz had five. Weltz also had three assists. Clare Traeger grabbed eight rebounds and All-Rookie teamer Ella Wanzer had seven points and five rebounds.

“I was really proud of our team for its resiliency,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon. “In the first half, our team and our coaches were really high-strung and tense. We wanted it so badly. We relaxed a little bit in the second half, really executed a lot better and took great shots.”

Abbe Laurence takes a selfie with her teammates after helping the University of Maine women’s basketball team defeat Binghamton in the first round of the America East playoffs on Wednesday, March 1. Credit: Adam Robinson / BDN

UMaine had just one turnover in the second half after having 11 in the first half.

“That is a huge thing. We had one turnover in the second half and limited them on the offensive boards. Those are two things we talked about at half time,” Vachon said.

Vachon praised Binghamton players for their play, particularly guards Bowman and Weltz along with forward Coleman.

UMaine was holding a 50-47 lead when it began its 7-0 run with two free throws by Smith.

Smith then fed Simon for a 3-pointer and Rockwood hit two free throws after she stole the ball and was fouled going in for a layup.

Coleman’s second straight basket with 4:28 left cut the lead to 59-51 but Bowman missed two free throws with 2:21 remaining and UMaine scored the next five points on four Simon free throws and one by Smith. 

Rockwood went 3-for-5 beyond the 3-point arc in the contest.

Coleman did a nice job defending Smith in the paint and she had help from her teammates, which left UMaine’s outside shooters open.

“We’ve been practicing those kinds of shots all week,” Rockwood said. “So I knew I needed to shoot my open shots.”

Simon said they all rushed a little in the first half and that’s why they had 11 turnovers and didn’t shoot the shots they usually take.

“But once we figured it out, we made good plays and our confidence went up. We kept shooting  the ball and defending. We knew Bowman was going to drive the paint so as long as we controlled our fouls, it helped us on offense,” Simon said.

Binghamton’s Bowman said UMaine got a “spark” in the second half.

“We know they are a shooting team. They started hitting shots and started getting open and, as much as we wanted to, we couldn’t capitalize on the other end,” Bowman said.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Simon and Rockwood at the end of the third period gave UMaine the lead for good at 46-41 entering the fourth period, the largest lead for either team up to that point.

The first half was a see-saw affair in which neither team was able to build more than a four-point lead.

Simon had seven first-half points and Gallego and Bornemann had five apiece but Smith was held to four points.

Bowman’s 10 points, Weltz’s six and Wanzer’s five paced the Bearcats.

Neither team shot the ball well in the first half.

UMaine shot 34.6 percent from the floor and 30 percent beyond the 3-point arc while Binghamton shot 37.6 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively.

Binghamton scored 13 points off turnovers while UMaine only had five as Binghamton turned the ball over just five times.

Binghamton also outscored UMaine in the paint 16-8.