BANGOR — Before Thursday’s game, the University of Maine women’s basketball team honored Stacey Porrini Clingan, a key player for the Black Bears in the mid-1990s who died of cancer in March.

Then, against Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse Duke, the Black Bears honored Porrini Clingan by playing with the hustle and tenacity she displayed in her four years at Maine. While Duke left the Cross Insurance Center with a 66-63 win, nothing came easily for the Blue Devils.

“I just know our team and our fight,” Maine Coach Amy Vachon said. “I just can’t be more proud of our kids. We believe we can beat everyone we play.”

Maine is 2-1; Duke is 1-1.

Duke led by 11 points with just over four minutes to play, but the Black Bears rallied, cutting the deficit to two points on a Tanesha Sutton layup with 28 seconds left. Duke’s Haley Gorecki missed a pair of free throws, but a Sutton miss at the other end maintained Duke’s 65-63 lead.

With 13.4 seconds to play, Jade Williams made the second of two free throws. Dor Saar’s 3-pointer in the final seconds went off the front rim.

“I thought we made some of the biggest plays at the toughest times,” said Duke Coach Joanne P. McCallie, who coached Maine from 1992 to 2000. “I’m proud of our team for our blue-collar effort … Teams don’t go away. You have to make teams go away.”

Blanca Millan led Maine with 25 points, Sutton finished with 14, and Saar had 11.

Gorecki paced Duke with 21 points and a career-high 10 assists.

It was fitting to honor Porrini on this night, with her former coach in attendance. McCallie remembered Porrini Clingan as the first player she recruited to her team at Maine.

“She was a glue person for our team,” McCallie said in a message played on the Cross Insurance Center videoboard before the game.

A 1997 UMaine graduate, Porrini Clingan ranks 17th on Maine’s all-time scoring list with 1,128 points, fifth in rebounding (929), and still holds the team record for blocks in a game with seven.

Porrini Clingan was a member of the 1995 Maine team that was the first in program history to advance to the NCAA tournament. She was a three-time all-conference selection.

Vachon, a teammate of Porrini Clingan’s for one season, presented Porrini Clingan’s framed No. 32 jersey to her family. Porrini Clingan’s son, Donovan, wore his mother’s jersey during the ceremony.

Maine struggled shooting the ball in the first quarter. The Black Bears were 3 for 17 from the field, including 0 of 8 from 3-point range. They were much better after that, finishing at 44.3 percent overall (27 for 61).

Maine hung around by outhustling the bigger Blue Devils to the boards, outrebounding Duke 33-27, with 12 offensive rebounds.

“At one point, we didn’t have a kid over 6 feet in there,” Vachon said. “We told our kids, crash the boards.”

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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