Rutgers University held the University of Maine men’s basketball team scoreless for 6 minutes, 28 seconds during a decisive second-half run Saturday afternoon as the Scarlet Knights broke the game open on the way to a 70-55 men’s basketball victory in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Rutgers (7-5) was leading 46-42 with 11:33 remaining when it rattled off 14 unanswered points to built a comfortable lead. Caleb McConnell and Eugene Omoruyi each scored five points during the spree and Myles Johnson added four.
UMaine (2-11) went 0-for-5 from the floor, missed two free throws and turned the ball over three times during the game-changing run while Rutgers went 5-for-10 from the floor.
“The whole game I thought we were getting great shots. We just didn’t make them in the first half,” said Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell in the postgame press conference. “Just hanging in there and waiting for them to start falling.
“We made a couple of great runs and put together some stops down the stretch,” added Pikiell.
UMaine coach Richard Barron said he was pleased with his team’s effort despite its third straight loss.
“I think we had a couple of moments where we lost our way and missed some shots,” Barron said. “We didn’t do a good job (in the second half) of keeping it out of the paint and I believe that led to the 14-0 run. So the game got away during that stretch.
“Unfortunately, that’s been a characteristic of ours. We have those letdowns. But I give Rutgers a lot of credit. Their size really hurt us on the boards and they got to the free throw line,” added Barron, whose team was outrebounded 40-26.
The Black Bears used an 8-0 run to build an 18-8 first-half lead before Rutgers strung together a 22-9 run to take a 30-27 lead into the intermission.
Rutgers expanded the lead to 46-37 in the second half but Andrew Fleming’s dunk and a Vilgot Larsson 3-pointer pulled the Black Bears to within 46-42 before Rutgers went on its 14-0 run.
Omoruyi finished with a game-high 17 points and he also hauled down five rebounds. McConnell had 14 points and three assists, both career highs, along with four rebounds and two steals and 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman center Johnson registered his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Geo Baker chipped in with nine points, a game-high nine assists and three steals. Montez Mathis had seven points, four rebounds and three assists.
Fleming tallied 11 points and five rebounds for the Black Bears and Isaiah White netted 11 points with three steals. Sergio El Darwich finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Vincent Eze posted eight points and five rebounds and Larsson chipped in with six points and four rebounds.
“We took a step forward today and I thought we played well for 30-32 minutes,” said Barron. “But we have to figure it out and I have to do a better job calling timeouts to stop those runs.”