Credit: Stock image | Pixabay

Tahirou Diabate and Malcolm Porter combined for 18 second-half points Saturday night as the University of Portland pulled away from the University of Maine men’s basketball team for a 71-62 non-conference victory at the Chiles Center in Portland, Oregon.

The game featured eight lead changes and four ties.

UMaine (1-2) used a buzzer-beating layup by Precious Okoh to pull within 30-27 at halftime, then scored six straight points to start the second half and grab a 33-30 lead on a Sergio El Darwich layup with 16:28 left in the game.

Diabate converted a layup and then outworked four Black Bears in the paint for a rebound and put-back to retake the lead for the Pilots.

UMaine regained the lead at 35-34 on a jumper by El Darwich with 14:31 remaining before Portland scored eight unanswered points to take the lead for good.

Portland, which entered the game shooting 45 percent from beyond the 3-point are, finally made its first 3-pointer of the game when JoJo Walker connected from the wing for a 37-35 edge.

UMaine hung close until the final minutes, drawing back to within a single point on five occasions before the Pilots extended their lead to as many as 10 points.

Porter beat the shot-clock buzzer with a 30-footer to make it 64-56 with 1:38 remaining and Quincy Ferebee followed with a steal and layup on the next possession to push Portland’s advantage to 66-56 with 1:09 left.

That sequence capped off a 14-5 run by Portland, coached by former NBA guard Terry Porter.

Diabate finished with a team-high 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting while Porter scored 10 of his 12 points late in regulation. Walker added 13 points for the Pilots, members of the West Coast Conference.

Isaiah White, a former UMaine guard now playing as a graduate transfer at Portland, started for the Pilots but was limited to four points on 2-of-7 shooting and three rebounds in 26 minutes. He was saddled by four fouls.

Another former UMaine player now competing as a graduate transfer at Portland, guard Levar Harewood, did not play in the game.

Portland shot 55 percent (28 of 51) from the field and outrebounded UMaine 29-28 despite a significant size disadvantage.

El Darwich led all scorers with 21 points to go with five assists and four rebounds for UMaine, while Fleming amassed 14 points, six assists and five rebounds and Nedeljko Prijovic added 10 points along with a team-high seven rebounds and three steals.

Okoh, a walk-on freshman guard from Brockton, Massachusetts, came off the UMaine bench to contribute nine points and two rebounds in 31 minutes.

UMaine shot 44.6 percent (24 of 56) from the field but was hurt by its season-low 50 percent (7 of 14) effort from the free-throw line.

Coach Richard Barron’s club will conclude its two-game trip to the West Coast at No. 20 Washington on Tuesday, with the opening tip set for 5 p.m. Eastern time.

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...