BANGOR, Maine — Defense continues to be the Achilles’ heel for the University of Maine men’s basketball team.

UMass Lowell shot 50 percent from the field and made 16 3-pointers on Thursday evening, pulling away in overtime to register a 108-95 America East victory over UMaine at the Cross Insurance Center in a game that included an unusual “flagrant 2” foul.

Matt Harris hit a 3-pointer off a missed free throw with 22.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, then stuck another to open the extra period as the River Hawks rattled off 14 unanswered points to secure the win.

“Lowell is a good team, they can really score,” said UMaine coach Bob Walsh, “but our ability to guard, our ability to stay connected as a team, our composure, our toughness, it’s just not where it needs to be and we need to figure out why.”

Early in the second half, UMaine freshman Ilija Stojiljkovic was ejected as the result of a flagrant 2 foul. It occurred during an incident involving UMass Lowell’s Josh Gantz, who seconds earlier had been whistled for a foul against Issac Vann.

UML players and head coach Pat Duquette told officials, as they reviewed the situation, that Stojiljkovic had bitten Gantz on the ear. After the game, Duquette would not comment on the specifics of the foul.

Walsh, who said he did not see the incident, recounted what he was told by game officials.

“We had good officials, I trust those guys,” Walsh said. “They went to the monitor, said Ilija made contact with him (the UML player). I didn’t see it, but they said it was a clear flagrant 2, making contact after the whistle.”

Walsh was told Stojiljkovic had intervened when teammate Shaun Lawton and a UML player confronted each other. Walsh said he did not discuss the nature of the contact with the officials and did not know whether Stojiljkovic had bitten the UML player.

“They said his head hit the kid or something,” said Walsh, who added that he had not asked Stojiljkovic about his actions.

Stojiljkovic wasn’t available for comment after the game.

UMass Lowell (10-15, 6-6 AE) won its second straight game and eclipsed 100 points in both. Harris went 7-for-11 from the 3-point arc on his way to a career-best 33 points and freshman Logan Primerano connected for a career-high 27 points with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.

It was the fourth consecutive loss for UMaine (8-17, 4-8 AE), which was without leading scorer Kevin Little because of a left Achilles injury and backup point guard Ryan Bernstein, who is suffering from mononucleosis.

The River Hawks shot 50 percent (37-for-74) overall and made 16 of 28 from the 3-point line (57 percent). Jahad Thomas posted a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“They were knocking down shots and we weren’t taking necessary steps to try to stop them,” said sophomore guard Aaron Calixte, who led a balanced UMaine offense with 19 points.

“We really didn’t compete that hard. We didn’t have that sense of urgency tonight,” he added.

Freshman Vann, who returned after missing the New Hampshire game with an ankle injury, provided 18 points and nine rebounds for the Black Bears. Till Gloger (5 rebounds) hit seven of nine shots on his way to 18 points. Lawton contributed 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Devine Eke chipped in with six points and eight rebounds.

UMass Lowell scored 29 points as the result of 26 UMaine turnovers, while the Black Bears scored 19 points off 22 River Hawk miscues.

UMaine had chances to win the game in regulation, but was unable to make the necessary plays.

Two Lawton free throws put UMaine ahead 85-84 with 2:08 to play and Eke scored on a putback off his own missed tip-in attempt to make it 87-84 with 45.7 seconds left.

Harris left the door open when he missed both ends of of a double bonus at the 26-second mark, but Gantz grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Harris, who drained a 3 to tie it with 22.1 seconds remaining.

“I’m pretty sure God knew who deserved to win that game,” Walsh said. “They missed two free throws late in the game and if we got the rebound, we would have gotten away with a game we didn’t deserve to win.”

UMaine had the final possession, but Vann missed a runner and a tip-in try missed as the horn sounded.

UML needed 95 seconds to end the suspense in overtime. Harris hit a 3 in transition and Primerano scored from underneath. A turnover led to Harris’ conventional three-point play to give the River Hawks a 95-87 lead 1:35 into OT.

The visitors scored six more unanswered points to make it a 14-point game.

“Our defense went back to kind of where it was. We couldn’t get stops and they got great looks. We got deflated,” Walsh said.

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...