University of Maine’s Jaden Clayton drives the ball down the court by UMaine Augusta’s Jalaughn Jackson in first half action of the men’s basketball game in Orono on Thursday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN
University of Maine’s Gedi Juozapaitis is fouled by UMaine Augusta’s Berk Evduzen as he goes up for a shot in first half action of the men’s basketball game in Orono on Thursday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The University of Maine men’s basketball team started slow but finished strong in its 103-67 victory over the University of Maine of Augusta on Thursday night. 

UMaine is now 5-4 on the season, while UMaine Augusta is 6-8. 

While the Black Bears jumped out quickly to a 13-2 lead, the Moose hung around and made a run late in the first half. 

Augusta went on a 10-4 run with 5:15 left in the half to pull within 38-26 behind two 3-pointers from Yonas Medfu and Zach Maturo. 

UMaine’s Kellen Tynes got one of his three first-half steals and immediately kicked into high gear on the fast break, finding Gedi Juozapaitis for a layup. Juozapaitis led all scorers in the first half with 11 points. 

Tynes entered the game on Thursday second in the country in steals per game with 3.2. 

The Moose went on a 7-2 run right after the breakaway bucket for UMaine, with Elijah Smith hitting a 3-pointer to pull UMaine Augusta within single digits, 42-33, with just 90 seconds left in the first half. 

University of Maine’s Adefolarin Adetogun Jr. ties to block a shot by UMaine Augusta’s Zach Maturo in first half action of the men’s basketball game against UMaine Augusta in Orono on Thursday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

“I thought we were a little too cute, not that they were trying to do anything bad, but we tried to share the ball at a really high level but sometimes you overshare it and take yourself out of the best shot available,” UMaine coach Chris Markwood said.

UMaine had to answer, and answer they did with a late layup from Peter Filipovity and a 3-pointer from Juozapaitis at the halftime buzzer that handed the Black Bears a 48-33 lead. Juozapaitis came into Thursday’s game with the top 3-point percentage in America East at 50 percent. 

“They’re playing free, playing loose, and we gave them confidence,” Markwood said of UMaine Augusta. “We can’t give those guys confidence and we’ve seen it when we play other teams. You can’t give people confidence. We talked at the half about coming out of halftime with more force, more attention to detail.”

Smith led the Moose with nine points in the first half and finished with 13. 

Just as he finished the first half, Juozapaitis drilled a 3-pointer to begin the second half and UMaine quickly held a 51-33 lead. 

University of Maine’s Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish makes a shot in first half action of the men’s basketball game against UMaine Augusta in Orono on Thursday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Black Bears came out of the gates strong, playing with a purpose and toughness that lacked at points in the first half. 

UMaine at one point increased its lead in the second half to 31 points when Jaden Clayton threw an alley-oop to a leaping Kristians Feierbergs and then followed it up on the next possession with a 3-pointer of his own to give the Black Bears a 76-45 lead with 12:09 to go. 

Aiming for 15 or more assists in the game, UMaine finished with 29. 

“I think one of our strengths is it’s not just one or two guys, it’s five or six that can step up and be the leader,” Filipovity said. “If you share the ball and play our game then there will always be one person or two that are open. It was a great time. We were aiming for 15-plus assists and we had a lot more than that. We were throwing up lobs, getting dunks and got the crowd into it.”

The Black Bears had two alley-oops in the second half, the first coming from Feierbergs to Tynes with 14:22 to go in the game that gave UMaine a 65-42 advantage. 

University of Maine’s Kellen Tynes celebrates the Black Bears 103-67 victory over UMaine Augusta in Orono Thursday night. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Tynes and Clayton both finished with impressive stat lines. Tynes had 12 points, six assists and three steals while Clayton tallied 14 points, seven assists and three steals. 

Adefolalrin Adetogun hit a 3-pointer with 8:10 remaining that gave UMaine an 87-55 lead, its largest of the game to that point. 

Augusta shot 5-for-11 from deep in the first half but didn’t score from three in the second half, shooting 0-for-7.

University of Maine mens basketball head coach Chris Markwood yells out during the game against UMaine Augusta in Orono on Thursday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

“I thought it all started with getting stops,” Markwood said. “We came out of the gate getting stops and it allowed us to get out in transition. I think this team can be really good out in transition. We’re working on it daily and we’ve got to get better at it.”

On the other side, UMaine had five players finish in double figures with Filipovity leading the way with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. 

“It feels good,” Filipovity said of the win. “Now we’re getting ready now for Merrimack on Sunday.”

Fraser MacDonald paced Augusta with 14 points. 

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Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.