BANGOR — Whatever mojo the University of Maine women’s basketball team tapped into over the second half of the season is still very potent, and was on display Wednesday night at Cross Insurance Center during the Black Bears’ America East Conference quarterfinal game against Vermont.

Down early, the Black Bears took the lead in the second quarter and pulled away down the stretch of the fourth for a 78-66 win. With its ninth straight victory, Maine (17-14) will host a conference semifinal game against UMass Lowell at 1 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Gym.

Junior forward Maeve Carroll had her third strong game of the season against the Catamounts, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. With nine assists, Carroll was one assist shy of a triple-double. This was Carroll’s third double-double against Vermont in three games this season.

“This is the third game against them, and the first two games I thought I played pretty well. Going into this game I had a lot of confidence offensively,” Carroll said.

“She never stops working and she’s a really good player,” Vermont senior forward Hanna Crymble said of defending Carroll.

Point guard Dor Saar had 21 points, including 5-for-11 shooting from 3, and six assists for the Black Bears, who overcame Vermont’s size advantage with 12 3-pointers.

“Threes are a part of our game. Whenever they doubled Maeve, Maeve knows how to find the open person,” Saar said.

The Black Bears pulled away over the final four minutes, and made seven free throws in the final minute.

“In the last four minutes, we knew we had to get stops,” Carroll said.

Ahead 39-35 at the half, Maine focused on defense in the second half.

“At one point I thought it was just going to be who would outscore who,” Maine Coach Amy Vachon said.

The Black Bears pushed their lead to 11 points, 58-47, with 4:15 left in the third on a layup and free throw by Maddy McVicar (14 points), but Vermont fought back, cutting the deficit to four points on Jane McCauley’s 3. McCauley entered the game averaging less than two points per game, but made three 3-pointers and finished with nine points.

Trailing 22-16 late in the first quarter, Maine went on an 11-0 run to take a 27-22 lead in the second. The Catamounts shot 10 for 18 from the field in the first quarter by working the ball inside to exploit their size advantage.

“In the first quarter, we did really well with transition. We transitioned hard and fast. They’re a very smart team. They don’t get down. They learn from their mistakes. They just continued to hit shots,” Crymble said.

Maine’s depth may have taken a hit late in the game when Anna Kahelin injured her right leg taking a charge with 17.8 seconds left. Kahelin was helped off the court while putting little weight on the leg.

“We’ve been through it before,” Vachon said, pointing to the numerous injuries Maine has overcome this season. “We’ve been through it a lot this year.”

Crymble had 17 points for Vermont, and Josie Larkins scored a team-high 19 for the Catamounts and Emma Utterback added 15. Anne Simon scored 15 points, giving the Black Bears four players in double figures.

Comments are not available on this story.