ORONO – Hands clapping, cymbals crashing, The Pit was everything a home court advantage should be ahead of Sunday’s America East semifinal tilt between Maine and UMass Lowell.
Guts and noise led the Black Bears to a 67-54 win over the Riverhawks and to Maine’s fifth consecutive America East title game as it looks for the three-peat.
The win took more guts, especially early on.
UMass Lowell was crushing Maine in the rebounding department and the Black Bears were without point guard Dor Saar who got into foul trouble in the first quarter.
“We could have really crumbled there and Maddy (McVicar) and Anne (Simon) took over that ball handling responsibilities and I’m just proud of them,” head coach Amy Vachon said after the game.
Lowell had every answer and held the crowd in check for the the first 18 minutes of the game, but then Maine got hot scoring 10 unanswered points in the final two minutes to take a 35-27 lead at the break.
The Riverhawks were able to scrap back and cut the deficit back down to two late in the third, but 11-2 Maine run put the game out of reach as the crowd reached its crescendo.
“It’s incredible what they’ve gone through, it’s incredible I mean two days ago we lost a player who’s playing really well for us to another ACL. They’re just resilient,” head coach Amy Vachon said after the game.
Maine will play top seed Stony Brook in the America East title game Friday at 5 p.m on Long Island, New York. It will be the Black Bears fifth straight appearance in the America East title game.