The University of Massachusetts Lowell had never beaten the University of Maine women’s basketball team at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
But the River Hawks built a 13-point lead in the third quarter, receiving a clutch of three-pointers from freshman guard Ivory Finley with 59 seconds left to help them weather a late UMaine rally and the Black Bears with 60-55 on Wednesday night.
UMass Lowell had gone 0-10 against UMaine on the road and the loss left UMaine with a 2-7 home record this season, including one loss each in Orono and Augusta. That’s UMaine’s worst home score since the 2012-13 team went 2-8 en route to a 4-24 campaign.
UMass Lowell improved to 5-7 overall and 2-1 in America East, while UMaine is now 6-10 and 3-3, including a 1-3 league record in the Cross Insurance Center.
UMaine shot a dismal 13.3 percent behind the 3-point arc (2 for 15) while the River Hawks went 6 for 18 (33.3 percent) from long range. It was the Black Bears’ second lowest three-pointer this season, coming on the heels of a 15 for 24 appearance against New Hampshire at the Cross Insurance Center six days ago.
UMaine shot 40.7 percent from the floor (24 for 59) but UMass Lowell shot 45.7 percent (21 for 46).
Junior striker Denise Solis’ 13 points and four rebounds and Finley’s 12 points and two steals pace UMass Lowell. Kaylen Banwareesingh produced nine points, six rebounds and two assists, Jaini Edmonds had eight points, four assists and four rebounds, and Shamyjha Price added eight points and three rebounds.
Junior guard Anne Simon’s game-high 24 points, which came to 10 for 20 shooting from the floor, four steals and three rebounds, led UMaine. But the other four starters – Caroline Bornemann (2 for 10), Maeve Carroll (2 for 7), Alba Orois (2 for 6) and Paula Gallego (1-3) – went off the floor a combined 7 for 26.
Orois handed out eight assists, but also had five turnovers. In her previous seven games, she turned the ball only 10 times.
All-America East forward Carroll was held on four points and limited to 15 points in her last three games.
Freshman forward Adrianna Smith came off the bench and provided a big spark, finishing with nine points, six rebounds and five assists to go with two blocked shots.
UMaine had separate scoreless pieces of 5:32 and 5:12 in the first half and went into the first 3:14 of the second half without denting the scoreboard, giving the River Hawks an 8-0 run into a 35-22 lead could parry.
But Simon and Smith brought the Black Bears down to 53-50 with 1:31 to go.
However, as time ran out on the shot clock, Edmonds passed the ball behind her to Ivory and Ivory launched a three from the right wing which sailed through the cylinder.
“[Edmonds] was about to drive for a layup but I had a wide open three. I knew there was only one second left [on the shot clock] so I shot it,” said Finley, who was sure it would be okay.
“I thought it was money,” she said.
“That was huge,” said UMass Lowell freshman head coach Denise King.
Simon responded with a three-pointer with 27 seconds left and UMaine had to make a mistake.
Price dropped one of two free throws to make it 57-53 with 22 seconds left, but Simon converted a layup on a pass from Smith to narrow the lead to two four seconds later.
Edmonds made one of two free throws with 17 seconds left, but when Bornemann grabbed Edmonds’ miss, UMaine had a chance to equalize with a three.
Orois drove to the basket with four seconds to go instead of finding someone to hit a three-pointer. She ended up missing the layup, UMaine’s 10th missed layup of the match.
“That was the coaching staff’s fault, not Alba’s,” said UMaine coach Amy Vachon.
King said her team was “locked in” and that she was “extremely proud of them, especially when Maine made a run at the end. They made the decision for themselves not to stop and that they would win the game.”
Vachon was disappointed.
“We didn’t shoot well. We missed a lot of layups and we didn’t guard well defensively. It wasn’t a good game. And Lowell made plays,” she said.
“We had great shots, but we didn’t make them. We missed both open layups and threes,” said Simon.
“[Finley] a heavy shot, but that’s not why we lost the game. If we had played better, it wouldn’t have come to this.”