DURHAM, N.H. — So many times at the end, the University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team looked for 6-foot-2 scoring machine Carlie Pogue inside. But the Wildcats could not find her.

The University of Maine blanketed Pogue, and the rest of the Wildcats, to top UNH 56-46 Wednesday night at Lundholm Gymnasium.

Pogue hit an outside jumper to tie the game at 45 with 6:15 left. But neither she nor her teammates scored another basket as Maine pulled away.

This was a big win for the Black Bears, who handed UNH – the preseason America East favorite – its first home loss.

“I love this team. They compete,” Maine interim head coach Amy Vachon said.

Maine improved to 12-8 overall, 5-2 in the conference, good for a second-place tie with the Wildcats (14-6, 5-2). Defending champion Albany leads at 7-1.

Blanca Millan paced Maine with 16 points and three steals. Tanesha Sutton scored 15 and Fanny Wadling recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.

Pogue finished with 22 points, the only UNH player in double figures. The Wildcats committed 18 turnovers – a result of trying to force the ball inside, and playing without starting senior point guard Brittni Lai, who averages 10.5 points, 4.3 assists a game.

“Not having your starting point guard, who plays 40 minutes a game, definitely showed,” UNH Coach Maureen Magarity said. “We were out of sync.

“Their defense did a nice job of packing it in. They gave our post players some fits.”

To cover Pogue, the Black Bears used a series of players, from the 6-1 Wadling and 5-10 Sutton, to 6-2 Kirsten Johnson off the bench. All of them jumped in front of Pogue whenever they could.

“We can’t play behind her. She’s too good of a player,” Vachon said. “She’s stronger than our kids. We had to focus on fronting her.”

Sutton, a forward in a guard’s body, picked up four fouls, trying to stop Pogue.

“She’s always trying to post up. You relax one minute and she’s cutting by you,” Sutton said. “She’s a great player.

“This is a great win for us. Not only the W, but on the road against a veteran team.”

It also was a rematch of the America East semifinals last year, when fourth-seeded Maine upset No. 1 UNH at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“They took the championship away from us. We really wanted to beat them,” Pogue said.

“But their defense … It was frustrating. They were more aggressive.”

After the opening minutes, Maine never trailed, opening leads by as much as 11. But UNH closed to 43-39 after three quarters and tied it early in the fourth. Maine went to Millan, who hit three straight driving jump shots from the same spot, for a 51-45 lead.

Millan also made two steals in the closing minutes, securing the win.

NOTES: UNH forward Ashley Storey, a junior from Cumberland (and Greely High), is sitting out the season after shoulder surgery. Sophomore guard Sarah Clement of Falmouth (and McAuley High) sat out last season with a knee injury. She is back and has played in four games this year.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH