BANGOR, Maine — There have been some difficult moments this season for the University of Maine men’s basketball team.

First-year head coach Bob Walsh experienced his lowest point going into halftime of Thursday night’s game against Maryland Baltimore County. He pointed to his team’s lack of intensity and fight.

“You deal with all sorts of stuff, ups and downs,” Walsh said. “You learn to handle it, but at halftime of this game I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in myself or in a team that I’ve been a part of — and I think I made that clear.”

Even after what must have been an emphatic speech, the message did not appear to sink in for the Black Bears.

UMBC was virtually unstoppable at the offensive end in the second half, shooting 16-for-20 from the field, a sizzling 80 percent, to pull away for a 76-59 America East victory over UMaine at the Cross Insurance Center.

“I’ve never seen that number, 80 percent,” said Walsh, who declined to bring any players to the postgame press conference and instead described his frustration.

“It’s hard to describe how much it hurts, how bad it feels or what it looks like,” quite honestly, he said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Cody Joyce, UMBCs 6-foot-8 center, dominated the low post. He shot 9-for-13 from the field on his way to a game-high 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help the Retrievers (3-16, 1-5 AE) halt a seven-game losing streak.

UMaine (1-18, 0-6 AE) suffered its school-record 13th straight loss.

Jourdan Grant tossed in 17 points and Wayne Sparrow provided nine points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals for UMBC. The visitors shot 53 percent (27-for-51) overall and outrebounded the Black Bears 37-28. UMBC also made 18 of 22 free throws.

“We got a lot of layups. We got out in transition,” said UMBC coach Aki Thomas. “Even when they started pressing a little bit, we were able to break it and get some layups, get to the free-throw line. When you’re pretty much going inside to a guy like Cody, you’re getting high-percentage shots.”

Freshman guard Kevin Little scrapped his way to 15 points, including three 3-pointers, while posting three assists and three steals to lead UMaine. Zarko Valjarevic netted 14 points and Shawn Lawton provided nine points and three assists.

Already up 46-39, UMBC put its foot on the proverbial gas pedal during an 11-3 spurt starting at the 8:47 mark.

Grant scored on a drive to the basket and finished off the conventional three-point play, but Little canned a 3-pointer for the Bears. Joyce made two free throws, then Devarick Houston threw down a two-handed dunk after a UMaine turnover.

Joyce came back with a low-post basket off a Sparrow pass after another miscue by the Bears (they finished with 15), then followed up with dunk of his own to give the Retrievers a 57-42 lead with 6:29 remaining.

The Retrievers rattled off nine unanswered points late in the first half to grab a 28-23 halftime lead.

UMBC took advantage of its quickness and its frontcourt size to dominate the action under the basket. Joyce scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds to help the visitors outrebound the Bears 23-16.

UMaine was paced by seven points from Kevin Little, but foul trouble for Till Gloger and Garet Beal further exacerbated the Bears’ problems around the basket.

The Bears shot 33 percent (9-for-27), getting two 3-pointers from Zarko Valjarevic.

The Retrievers outscored the hosts 20-8 in the paint, scoring eight second-chance points. They shot only 36 percent (11-for-31), including 0-for-7 from the 3-point arc, but made six of seven free throws.

UMaine led 21-19 when UMBC began to heat up over the last 4½ minutes. Wayne Sparrow drove the lane for a left-handed runner, before Jourdan Grant sank two foul shots.

Joyce followed with a conventional three-point play that included a nifty baseline layup off a feed from Sparrow. Devarick Houston capped the burst with a tip-in that put the Retrievers on top 28-21 at the 2:12 mark.

Christian Ejiga scored a close-range basket late in the half to get UMaine back within five.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...