BANGOR, Maine -- It came down to the final seconds but the University of Maine women's basketball team (14-12, 8-5 America East) dropped a tight 58-56 decision to the top-seeded Albany Great Danes (23-3, 13-0 AE) on Sunday afternoon. Cherrish Wallace (Pasadena, Calif.) led all scorers with 16 points and five assists while Liz Wood (Catlett, Va.) added 10 points and six rebounds.
Maine, who shot 36.1-percent from the floor, received great numbers off its bench led by Anna Heise's (Halle, Germany) nine points and four rebounds. The storyline came from the free throw line as Albany went 14-for-21 and Maine knocked down all five free throws it took.
Albany used an 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the game, 25-16, with 6:19 left in the opening half. Maine began to battle back as Wood and Wallace knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead down to four. After a Great Dane bucket, Maine pieced together a 9-2-run to take the lead. Roberts drove the lane and hit a bucket while drawing a foul. After a made free throw, Sigi Koizar (Vienna, Austria) hit a 3-pointer to knot the score. Following another Albany make, Lauren Bodine (Louisville, Ky.) stroked a three from the right wing to put Maine on top, 31-30; a lead it would take into the halftime break.
Each team tallied just a pair of points apiece through the opening four minutes of the second half until Roberts found Heise down low for a layup, giving Maine a three point advantage.
Albany answered with a 7-0 run, starting with a 3-pointer from Sarah Royals, to stretch its lead to four, 5:33 into the second half.
The Black Bears responded, stringing together a 8-1 run to regain a three point lead. Wood started the run by finding Heise on a backdoor flash. Wallace continued the sprint with a jumper in the paint before Roberts slashed to the hoop to put Maine up by one. Wallace capped the run as she worked her way inside for two to give Maine a 43-40 advantage midway through the second half.
Back and forth action followed until Albany grabbed a slim two-point advantage with 5:38 left. The Black Bears had an answer as they put together a 5-0 run to regain their three point cushion. Wood again found Heise on a backdoor cut for two before Roberts pulled down an offensive board and went back up strong for a pair. Roberts drew a foul on the play and hit her free throw as Maine snagged a 53-50 lead with 2:58 to play.
With just over a minute to play and Maine trailing by two, Wood and Heise again hooked up for a bucket, this time with Heise drawing a foul on the make. Heise's free throw gave the Black Bears a 56-55 lead with 1:21 left. Albany's Margarita Rosario would head to the free throw line with 15-seconds left. Rosario's first free throw knotted the score, the eighth tie of the game, before her second gave the Great Danes a one point lead.
Maine looked to get the ball inside but a block from Megan Criag gave the ball back to Albany. Rosario hit the first of two free throws to put Albany on top 58-56. Maine was unable to get off a last second shot as the Great Danes took the America East victory.
The Black Bears return to action when they head to the road to take on Stony Brook on Feb. 22 at 2 PM.