Black Bears back in America East Final
PORTLAND, Maine - Sigi Koizar led all scorers with 21 points as the University of Maine women's basketball team knocked off No. 1 New Hampshire by a score of 61-52 in America East semifinal action.
The win advances Maine to its second-straight, and 17th overall, America East title game.
The Black Bears 2-3 matchup zone caused problems all afternoon for the Wildcats. The zone limited New Hampshire's inside game, forcing the Wildcats to take outside shots and ultimately leading to Maine's 22-13 advantage on points in the paint.
Koizar's clutch play helped Maine lock down the win late as she finished 13-of-18 from the free throw line. Her 21 points propelled her to sixth on Maine's all-time scoring list 1,657 points, surpassing Emily Ellis. Blanca Millan
In the first half, Maine's defense limited UNH to just 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from the floor. Maine held the Wildcats to single digits in both the first (9) and second (8) quarters.
Maine was able to work its offense and get the ball inside where it outscored New Hampshire 12-5 in the paint. The Wildcats did not lead in the first half.
The Black Bears were quick out of the gate, racing out to a 6-0 lead as they were able to hold New Hampshire scoreless over the opening 4:23.
UNH rallied, putting together a 6-0 sprint of its own, to knot the game with 2:54 to play in the first quarter.
The back and forth runs continued in the first as Julie Brosseau's triple came as part of a 7-0 Maine run, lifting the Black Bears to a 13-6 lead. A late bucket by New Hampshire pulled it within four entering the second.
New Hampshire kept rolling early in the second as Kristen Anderson tied the game for a second time with a triple, 1:46 into the period.
Maine, leading by a pair midway through the period, closed the half with a 4-0 run as Koizar's dribble drive bucket gave the Black Bears a 23-17 lead entering the half.
New Hampshire took its first lead of the game with 5:41 to play in the third after Olivia Healy capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer, putting the Wildcats on top, 28-27.
Back and forth action followed as the game would feature four more ties and two lead changes over the final five minutes of the period. Ashley Storey's three-point play gave New Hampshire a 37-36 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Maine came out firing in the fourth, beginning play with a 12-2 run, including four-straight from Tanesha Sutton. The sprint gave Maine its largest lead of the game, 49-39, with 4:11 remaining.
The Wildcats continued to fight, answering with a 7-1 run to claw their way back within four.
Maine's lead stretched back out to six on Koizar's eighth and ninth free throw of the period.
A triple from Brittni Lai cut the Maine lead to just three with 35-seconds to play. However, Maine closed the game on a 6-0 run, with four free throws from Millan and two more from Koizar, to capture a 61-52 America East semifinal victory.