DURHAM, N.H. — The calendar turned to March on Sunday, and with it came a timely lesson for the Maine women’s basketball team.

Winning 14 consecutive games in January and February is a great accomplishment, but it can all unravel in an instant at tournament time.

New Hampshire sucked the spirit out of the Black Bears with a 61-47 victory before an announced crowd of 1,241 at Lundholm Gymnasium in the America East Conference regular-season finale.

It wasn’t a crushing loss for Maine, which had already clinched the top seed in the conference tournament that begins Saturday in Binghamton, New York. But it meant the Black Bears have to share the regular-season title with Albany, both at 14-2. And it left Maine with the sobering knowledge that another listless performance could mean the end of what has been an enchanted season.

“We haven’t felt this way in a long time, and we don’t want to feel this way again,” junior forward Liz Wood said after leading Maine with 19 points.

New Hampshire (17-11, 9-7 America East) was itching for revenge after being shellacked 87-56 in Bangor on Jan. 29. The Wildcats were magnificent this time, taking control late in the first half with a 9-0 run keyed by freshman center Carlie Pogue. New Hampshire turned three Black Bear turnovers into seven points in that stretch and led 28-21 at intermission, the first time Maine had trailed at that point since Jan. 10 at Hartford.


“We were being passive, looking for other people to score. We didn’t look for our own shots,” Maine point guard Sigi Koizar said. “We couldn’t score, and then to see it on the scoreboard …”

Maine (22-7) opened the second half showing more resolve. Wood twice cut the deficit to four points, the last time at 40-36.

New Hampshire refused to yield. The Wildcats shot 59.1 percent in the second half and became the first team to eclipse 60 points against Maine since North Carolina on Dec. 19.

The biggest shot may have been a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Kristen Anderson of Greene, whose older sister, Courtney, plays for Maine. The Black Bears left her alone in front of her bench and she drilled a shot that gave her team a 47-38 lead with 9:52 left. Anderson saw her shot swish through the net, turned to her teammates and let out a howl before sprinting downcourt.

Maine never got the deficit below eight after that.

“We knew how well they could play and we just hoped that we could come out here and we could give our best and see how it would compare against theirs. That was the best we’ve played all season,” Kristen Anderson said.


“I saw my (teammate) drive and the girl guarding me sucked in. I knew I had to hit that shot,” she said of her big 3.

Pogue finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds to help New Hampshire earn a 33-12 advantage in bench scoring.

“I don’t think we did a very good job of responding really at any point,” Wood said. “We didn’t really show that much fight, and that’s what’s most disappointing to me.”

Maine was so passive for much of that game that it attempted only one free throw, a season low. New Hampshire made 10 of 13 from the stripe.

“Our execution was just off today. We weren’t moving the ball with any pace or rhythm,” Maine Coach Richard Barron said. “You’ve got to fight and claw for those inches, and today we didn’t get those inches and they did. Each time we had a chance to make a run, they got an offensive rebound and a putback.”

The teams will meet again next Sunday in Binghamton if each wins its quarterfinal matchup. Maine is set to face Binghamton, the No. 8 seed, on Saturday. If the Black Bears win two games in Binghamton, they will host the conference championship game, for a chance to reach the NCAA tournament, on March 13.


“We’ve got to try to find the momentum again in the next week in practice,” Koizar said.

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH

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