Central Connecticut State supplied first-year coach Patrick Sellers with his first win as the Blue Devils used balanced scoring and a momentum-changing 12-4 run in the second half to beat the University of Maine’s Black Bears 64-56.
The non-conference men’s basketball game was played in front of approximately 400 fans at the Cross Insurance Center Tuesday night. Central Connecticut improved to 1-5 while UMaine fell to 2-3 overall and 0-3 against Division I competition.
UMaine rattled off 10 unanswered points in the second half to pull within 36-34 but the Blue Devils responded with their 12-4 run and UMaine couldn’t get any closer than seven the rest of the way.
Central Connecticut State placed four players in double figures, led by junior guard Tre Mitchell’s 12 points, including a 9-for-10 showing from the foul line.
UMaine’s only double-digit scorer was redshirt junior forward Stephane Ingo, who had a game-high 14 points to go with five rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.
Central Connecticut State freshman guard Davonte Sweatman scored 11 points and triggered the 12-4 run with a floater from the left side of the key that snapped a scoreless drought of 7:14 in which CCSU missed seven shots and turned the ball over four times.
He also added a driving layup later in the flurry.
“He’s quick and we’ve been trying to get him to be more aggressive,” Sellers said.
The 5-foot-8 Sweatman said he heeded his coach’s advice.
“I wasn’t aggressive early in the season but I need to be to help the team,” said Sweatman, who also had two steals.
Sweatman’s floater made it 38-34 and Trenton McLaughlin’s two free throws expanded Central Connecticut State’s lead to six. Byron Ireland answered with two foul shots for UMaine, but Zach Newkirk hit a short fall away jumper and Nigel Scantlebury fed Stephane Ayangma underneath for a basket.
Ingo scored inside off a Maks Klanjscek pass before Sweatman’s layup and Scantlebury’s nifty move and basket underneath made it 48-38 with 7:05 remaining.
Jayden Brown contributed 10 points and four rebounds and Scantlebury added 10 points, four assists and three rebounds for Central Connecticut State. Andre Snoddy chipped in with nine points and six rebounds and Newkirk had four steals.
Vukasin Masic and LeChuan DuHart had eight points apiece for UMaine and Masic also dished out four assists and grabbed six rebounds. Andefolarin Adetogun and Ata Turgut had six points each and Adetogun had four assists.
The Blue Devils forced 18 UMaine turnovers and had a 15-8 edge in points off turnovers. They also outscored UMaine in the paint 30-20 and had 12 second-chance points to UMaine’s five.
Sellers said defense won the game for them.
“We had 16 steals and we aren’t the kind of team that gambles on defense. But we were in the right position. Maine is great at posting up, even their guards, but we were able to get help,” Sellers said.
“We’re always preaching defense,” Sweatman said.
UMaine shot 39.5 percent from the floor and a dismall 14.3 percent beyond the 3-point arc.
CCSU shot 45.1 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from long range.
“Central Connecticut played hard and they made big shots,” said UMaine head coach Richard Barron. “We had way too many turnovers and missed a lot of shots.”
Scantlebury nailed a 3-pointer to open the game and the Blue Devils never trailed, building their lead to as much as 12 late in the first half before Chris Efretuei’s hook shot pulled UMaine within 31-21 at the intermission.
The Black Bears turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and that resulted in a 8-2 edge for the Blue Devils in points off turnovers.
Central Connecticut State also outscored UMaine 20-6 in the paint and 10-3 in second chance points.
Brown’s eight points and three rebounds paced the Blue Devils. Snoddy had six points and three rebounds and Scantlebury added five points and three assists with Sweatman contributing four points.
Ingo’s four points and four rebounds and Turgut’s four points led UMaine.
UMaine will travel to take on Bradley University (Illinois) on Saturday at 3 p.m.