BANGOR, Maine — The University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team unleashed its inside offense after intermission and cruised to a 74-63 America East victory over the University of Maine on Thursday night at the Cross Insurance Center.

Iba Camara, a 6-foot-9-inch junior forward, paced the Wildcats with a career-high 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, and front-court mate Tanner Leissner added 17 points and seven boards, with that duo combining for 25 points after intermission.

“Coach [Bill Herrion] always emphasizes the fact that we’ve got to throw the ball inside, and that’s what we did today, and we took advantage of it,” said Camara, who helped UNH score 30 of its 41 second-half points from the paint to extend a 33-27 halftime advantage.

Guards Jaleen Smith and Daniel Dion provided the complementary perimeter scoring for UNH, which improved to 12-7 overall, 3-2 in conference play. Smith finished with 16 points, and Dion added 15, as the Wildcats’ starters scored all but three of the team’s points.

“We’re a balanced team,” said Herrion, whose team shot 55 percent (32-of-58) from the field for the game. “If we get four guys in double figures we’re pretty good.”

The loss was the third straight in conference play for UMaine, 5-16 overall and 1-5 in America East. The Black Bears return to action in a game at 2 p.m. Sunday at the University of Albany.

“New Hampshire did a really good job of playing to their strengths,” said UMaine coach Bob Walsh. “They’re the most physical team in our league, and they really pound the ball at you at the glass.

“Even though they’ve got some guys who can shoot it, they don’t really settle for [3-pointers]. They get it inside, and physically we couldn’t stand up to them. They were able to get what they wanted on the offensive end pretty much the whole game,” he said.

Junior guard Wes Myers led UMaine offensively with 25 points — 18 in the second half — on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and a 6-of-6 effort from the free-throw line.

Redshirt freshman center Vincent Eze added 13 points and four rebounds for the Black Bears, and guard Jaquan McKennon came off the bench to contribute 10 points and six assists.

“Our guys are battling, we’re fighting, but I’d like to see our competitive spirit stand up to a good team,” said Walsh. “Offensively I thought we settled for 3-pointers, especially in the first half we settled for not very good looks from the 3-point line, but that’s New Hampshire again. They plug the gaps, they’re going to force you on the perimeter, and we settled for that.”

UNH used 50 percent (14-of-28) shooting from the field to take its halftime lead despite both Camara and Leissner — a first-team all-conference pick as a sophomore last season — missing time with two fouls.

UMaine freshman forward Andrew Fleming of South Paris entered the game 4:19 into the contest, marking his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury during the Black Bears’ Jan. 2 loss to Columbia.

While the 2016 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year from Oxford Hills High School was quiet in his first relief stint, he returned to the game after a brief respite with 8:38 left in the period and concluded the opening half with six points and two rebounds.

He finished the night with six points and three rebounds in 24 minutes.

UNH outscored UMaine 8-2 during the first 3:30 of the second half to extend its lead to 41-29, but after the Black Bears hung within 43-33, the Wildcats went on a 9-2 run that included a 3-pointer by Dion and back-to-back dunks by Camara that gave UNH a 52-35 cushion with 12:40 left.

The Wildcats’ lead grew to as much as 63-43 on a hook shot by Camara with 7:51 to play.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...