WHAT: America East women’s basketball championship game

WHEN: 4 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Cross Insurance Center, Bangor

TV: ESPNU

AT STAKE: Automatic bid to NCAA tournament. Maine last appeared in the NCAAs in 2004, Hartford in 2011.

SCOUTING MAINE: Maine has scoring options, led by the 3-point shooting and drives of 6-1 sophomore guard Blanca Millan (17.7 points per game). Julie Brosseau (11.2), a 5-8 sophomore guard, is also a 3-point threat, and freshman point guard Dor Saar (5.9) will launch a few 3-pointers. Tanesha Sutton (12.0), a 5-10 junior guard/forward, scores on jumpers and drives, and 6-1 sophomore forward Fanny Wadling averages 6.3 points. Guard Parise Rossignol has been a spark off the bench, scoring double figures in both playoff games.

QUOTES: “They have a no-quit mentality,” said Hartford Coach Kim McNeill. “When you play them, you have to understand that you have to be tougher than them.”

SCOUTING HARTFORD: Lindsey Abed, a 5-8 junior guard, is the leading scorer (13.5 point per game) and the Hawks’ top 3-point threat. Senior 6-0 forwards Janelle Harrison (11.9) and Darby Lee (11.4) are strong inside. The Hawks’ wild card is 5-9 sophomore guard Sierra DaCosta, last year’s America East Rookie of the Year. She missed 14 games, including both contests against Maine because of a stress fracture in her foot. A driving guard who draws fouls, DaCosta returned five games ago – and the Hawks have not lost since.

COMEBACK KIDS: The Hawks looked doomed in both their America East quarterfinal and semifinal games. Against Binghamton, Hartford trailed 61-49 with 2:20 left and 63-58 with 16 seconds to go. The Hawks hit a 3-pointer, stole the ball, scored to force overtime and won 72-68. In the semifinals, Hartford trailed Albany by seven with less than three minutes to play, then scored the final nine points for a 58-56 win. “I’m hoping we’ve grown from these two games,” McNeill said.

STRONG SCHEDULES: Of 349 Division I teams, Maine had the 142nd toughest schedule, and toughest among America East teams, according to the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Among the Black Bears’ opponents were nationally ranked Mississippi State, Ohio State and Duke. Hartford had the second-toughest schedule in the conference (152nd nationally), with opponents such as Villanova, Syracuse and North Carolina.

– Kevin Thomas

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