BANGOR — They will be coming to Portland on a positive note.

The University of Maine women’s basketball team won its final regular season game, beating Binghamton University 62-49, before 2,372 at the Cross Insurance Center on Sunday afternoon.

Tanesha Sutton led Maine with 18 points, while Sigi Koizar added 17 points and seven rebounds.

The Black Bears next head south, to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, for the America East tournament, starting with the quarterfinals on Saturday. Maine (16-15, 9-7 in the conference) earned the No. 4 seed and will play at 2:30 p.m.

Maine’s first round opponent is … Binghamton.

The Bearcats (13-16, 8-8) ended up as the No. 5 seed, although that was not determined until Hartford lost to Albany later in the afternoon

“Hartford or Binghamton; once we find out who we’re playing, we’ll figure out a game plan,” said Maine associate head coach Amy Vachon, who continues to run the team in the absence of head coach Richard Barron, who has been on a medical leave for two months.

Sunday’s game plan seemed to work just fine. Maine played a physical, half-court defense, denying good shots, and crashing the boards,

“At times our offense was out of whack,” said Binghamton junior guard Imani Watkins, who was held to 15 points (four under her average), on 5-for-13 shooting.

“You have to credit them. They were really aggressive and got us out of our rhythm sometimes.”

Maine held Binghamton to 33 percent shooting, caused 18 turnovers, and out-rebounded the Bearcats 45-32, including 17 offensive boards.

“Maine had 15 points off turnovers and 19 second-chance points. You can’t win a game when you give up stats like that,” Binghamton Coach Linda Cimino said.

Still, the game was close. A Bearcats’ 3-pointer closed them to 44-40 with 7:20 left. This brought back memories of Maine’s loss at Binghamton last month, when the Bearcats rallied in the fourth quarter to win.

But Koizar came through. Cold most of the night from beyond the arc (1 for 9), she hit a 3-pointer.

Laia Sole made a steal, and then scored a layup on a Sutton assist.

After a Binghamton basket, Kirsten Johnson’s put back, and Blanca Millan’s 3-pointer had the Black Bears up 54-42 with 4:50 left.

Maine shot only 35 percent from the field, but Vachon was not complaining.

“We didn’t shoot the ball great, but we still won by 13,” she said. “I was really proud of the defensive intensity our team came out with. They executed the game plan really, really well.”

And that plan, Vachon said, came from the other three assistant coaches.

“Those three did a phenomenal job in preparing (the players) for this team. These kids knew everything Binghamton was going to do individually – every play they were going to run, what they like to do.”

Sutton had the responsibility of covering Watkins.

“We know she likes to pump fake, get you up in the air and go by you,” Sutton said. “The whole time I was just trying to stay down and make every shot hard for her.”

On the other end of the court, Sutton, a 5-foot-10 guard who plays taller than she is, created mismatches underneath, posting up against Binghamton’s guard and scoring layups.

Koizar, playing her final regular-season game in Bangor, was much better inside the arc (4 for 7), while drawing fouls (6 of 7 free throws).

NOTES: Both Koizar and forward Sheraton Jones were honored before the game as seniors playing their last home contest. Jones had two points and four rebounds … Johnson played only four minutes, but was most effective, with four points, three rebounds and an assist.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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