Maine's Kellen Tynes, left, looks for an open pass as Ohio State's Zed Key defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

ORONO, Maine — New Jersey Institute of Technology relinquished a lead late in regulation but made free throws when it counted and secured a 91-83 overtime win on the road against the University of Maine at The Pit on Sunday afternoon.

The Highlanders shot 6-17 from the free throw line in regulation, but then shot 9-11 and secured the win in extra time. It was NJIT’s first victory in America East Conference play this season.

Midway through the second half, a 3-pointer from NJIT’s Adam Hess with 9:52 that gave the Highlanders a 61-52 advantage, their largest of the game.

Trailing 63-55 with 9:01 left, UMaine’s Kellen Tynes went on a 7-0 run on his own, hitting two layups and drilling a 3-pointer from the right corner off an offensive rebound that pulled the Black Bears within a point with 7:34 to play in the game.

Tynes’ buckets made the crowd at The Pit erupt and the guard showed his emotion as a timeout was called on the court after the triple, fist pumping at midcourt as a timeout was called.

After an alley-oop to NJIT’s Kevin Osawe, Gedi Juozapaitis hit his sixth triple of the game for the Black Bears to tie the contest at 65-65. Then, with 4:23 to play, Juozapaitis scored a layup off a hesitation move, followed by a reverse layup from Tynes making it 71-67 with 3:36 remaining.

UMaine had strung together some stops on defense and was able to gain the lead back for the first time since the first half when the Black Bears were up by as much as 11 points.

“We got the 11-point lead because we were getting stops and turnovers and getting out in transition,” UMaine head coach Chris Markwood said. “Then for whatever reason, whether we got lax or didn’t get better defensively, we just didn’t get stops and then from that point on, we didn’t get consistent stops.”

Miles Coleman scored back to back layups for NJIT and Mekhi Gray at the basket with 1:40 left to tie the game at 73-73.

Tynes hit a free throw with 1:22 left to give UMaine a one-point lead before Coleman scored and was fouled, sinking the free throw and putting NJIT ahead 76-74 with 1:06 left. Raheim Sullivan followed with a free throw at 23 seconds to play, giving UMaine the ball down three.

With about nine seconds to play, Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish caught a pass in the left corner and hit a massive 3-pointer to tie the game and send the contest to overtime. Wright-McLeish finished with 16 points.

In overtime, Coleman hit a three 90 seconds in to take an 80-77 lead, something NJIT coach Brian Kennedy said was “big for us.”

UMaine still had a chance, however. Tynes made a block with 2:20 left and on the ensuing possession made a wrap-around pass to Kristians Feierbergs who dunked the ball and tied the game at 81-81.

It would be one of the last stops UMaine made on defense as the Highlanders were constantly at the free throw line late and, unlike in regulation, were making their shots.

UMaine couldn’t earn back the lead in OT, with NJIT’s Sullivan scoring at the hoop with 1:40 to go to take a 83-81 lead, followed by eight made free throws by the Highlanders to end the game.

“Obviously everyone is frustrated right now,” Markwood said. “We’ve been in positions to get wins and we just haven’t made enough winning plays.”

Coleman led the way for the Highlanders with 22 points, one of four NJIT players scoring in double figures.

Juozapaitis paced all scorers with 26 points, while Tynes scored 24, grabbed 10 rebounds, made five assists and stole the ball four times.

The Black Bears controlled much of the first half before going into the half tied up.

UMaine went on an 11-4 run midway through the first half thanks in part to a 3-pointer from Juozapaitis and back-to-back triples from Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish, who finished the first half with 11 points.

Trailing by 27-16, its largest deficit of the first half, the Highlanders went on a run of their own that started when Kjell de Graaf drilled one of his three 3-pointers of the half.

NJIT then scored two more baskets and slashed UMaine’s lead to 27-23 with 7:56 left in the half. De Graaf made another triple with 3:53 to play to pull within a point, 36-35.

“I think de Graaf, when I inserted him in the game, he was able to hit a couple threes and he turned the game for us,” Kennedy added. “He’s a lot like Maine’s big guys that can step out and make the three. He’s been doing it in practice and today was a breakout game for him.”

Tynes answered with a turnaround jumper and Juozapaitis followed with a 3-pointer to get him to 14 points in the half and gave UMaine a 41-35 advantage with 2:35 to play in the half.

“In the first half we got stops and got out in transition,” Markwood said. “I thought offensively we shared the ball really well and we’ve been good. That should lead to wins if we’re doing what we need to on the other side of the ball, but right now we aren’t doing enough defensively.”

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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.