BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The University of Maine women's basketball team (1-18, 0-6 America East) trailed by as many as 21 but fought all the way back to cut the Vermont (7-12, 4-2 AE) lead to six late in the second half but failed to climb over the hump, dropping the contest by a score of 61-53 on Wednesday evening. Liz Wood (Catlett, Va.) poured in a career-high 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting while also pulling down nine rebounds to earn the freshman Maine's America East Player of the Game.
Ashleigh Roberts (Wilmington, Del.) added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Black Bears who ended the game shooting 39.6% from the field while outrebounding the Catamounts 31-30.
The Catamounts had three scorers total double-figures as they were led by Annie Wheeler's 14 points and four rebounds.
Vermont opened up its lead early with a 9-0 run on six points from Annie Wheeler, as the Catamounts led 11-4 with six minutes gone in the first half.
After a three-point shot from the top of the key by Wood, Vermont answered with a 9-2 run, extending its lead to 20-9 with 10:13 remaining in the opening half.
The teams traded hoops until the Catamounts took their largest lead of the half, leading by 13 with five-minutes to play.
Maine looked to end the half on a strong note as it closed the gap to nine with a minute left. The late 4-0 Black Bear run began when a pressure trap forced a Catamount turnover. Roberts broke out on the fastbreak before a late dish to Chantel Charles (London, U.K.) ended with a bucket. Maine forced another Catamount turnover on Vermont's next possession as Courtney Anderson (Greene, Maine) came up with the steal and quick looped a pass down court to a sprinting Roberts who laid the ball up and off glass for two.
A three from Tierra Shumpert with just three-seconds remaining in the half extended the Catamount lead to 31-19 at the half.
Wood paced the Black Bear first half attack with nine points and five rebounds while Roberts added five points and four rebounds with a pair of steals. Maine, which shot 31.8% (7-22) in the opening half, outrebounded the Catamounts 16-13 in the opening stanza.
The Catamounts opened the second half on 7-0 run in the opening three minutes, extending their lead to 38-19.
Maine kept the pressure on as Wood stroked another three before the freshman forced a steal and raced down court, drawing a foul and hitting one to cut the lead to 40-25.
A 6-0 Vermont run off fastbreaks gave the Catamounts their largest lead of the game at 46-25.
Wood continued to fuel the Maine comeback as the Black Bears put together a 14-2 run to bring them all the way back within six with 9:29 to play. Wood started the run with a nice look inside to Mikaela Gustafsson (Sodertalje, Sweden) for two. After a pair of free throws from Wood, the freshman knocked down a three to bring Maine within 12. The run continued with a turn around jumper in the paint from Gustafsson before a pair of Roberts' free throws cut the Catamount lead to just six.
Vermont answerd with another brief run to extend its lead back to 14, 61-47, with just over three minutes to play.
Maine finished the game strong on a 6-0 run but ran out of time as the Catamounts took the victory by a score of 61-53.
The Black Bears are back in action on Saturday when they welcome Stony Brook to Alfond Arena. Game time is scheduled for 2 PM.