UMaine's Gedi Juozapaitis defends New Hampshire's Matthew Herasme at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Credit: Adam Robinson / BDN

In a scene that has become all too familiar to longtime University of Maine men’s basketball fans, the Black Bears lost a lead late in the first half in the blink of an eye and couldn’t find its way back, losing to rival University of New Hampshire 71-58 on Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

In what was possibly the worst loss of UMaine’s season, the Black Bears scored just four points in the first 7:36 of the second half, didn’t capitalize on poor shooting from the Wildcats during the run and fell behind for good.

New Hampshire ended the first half on a 12-0 run in the final 2:32 to take a 38-30 lead into the break.

Kyree Brown hit three 3-pointers during the run and finished the first half with 11 points, while Jaxson Baker hit the fourth and ended the half with six points.

“They made us pay and when we make mistakes, teams are going to make us pay,” UMaine coach Chris Markwood said. “We’re not at the point where we can do that, we have to execute at a higher level.”

“They hit four threes in a row and that’s tough to make a comeback when a team hits four threes,” UMaine’s Gedi Juozapaitis added. “It’s something we have to improve on is guarding the 3-point line.”

Brown finished with 22 points to lead the game. The win moved UNH to 8-8 and 2-2 in America East, while the loss for UMaine continued its skid to 6-10 and kept the Black Bears winless in the conference at 0-3.

UNH grinded UMaine down on the defensive end, forcing the Black Bears into offensive sets and very few fastbreak opportunities.

“We ran up against a good team tonight and I think that’s the first game since we came back from Christmas that I felt we got outplayed,” Markwood said. “Kudos to UNH, Coach [Bill] Herrion is an amazing coach and he’s got them playing really well.”

UMaine had taken a 30-26 lead on a layup from Kellen Tynes with 3:22 left in the first half and the crowd was loud with cheers. It was the end of a 10-2 run after the Black Bears trailed 24-20 with 7:22 left.

The beginning of the first half was a back-and-forth affair with both teams swapping leads. There were eight lead changes in the first 20 minutes.

Nine Black Bears scored in the first half with Gedi Juozapaitis pacing the team with seven points.

While Tynes scored on an up-and-under layup to begin the second half, Brown answered with a 3-pointer 4 feet behind the line at the top of the arc to give the Wildcats a 43-32 lead.

New Hampshire then went on a 9-3 run that separated the Wildcats from the Black Bears by a score of 55-37 with 11:23 left in the contest. UNH’s largest lead was 19 points.

“At times we got stagnant, we took some tough shots in deep sometimes instead of making them guard another action and the way we play, we have to do that,” Markwood said. “We knew this wasn’t going to be the free-flowing game you saw Sunday.”

Kristians Feierbergs hit a jumper, followed by a corner 3-pointer from Juozapaitis, then a free throw and a layup from the fifth-year senior to pull UMaine within single digits, 55-46, with 9:09 left.

Nazim Derry hit his first 3-pointer for the Wildcats to stop the UMaine run while putting New Hampshire ahead 58-46 with 8:45 left.

Ninety seconds later, Derry hit another triple that gave New Hampshire a 63-47 lead with 7:15 to play.

New Hampshire out-rebounded UMaine 37-30 on Wednesday night.

UMaine had to answer, and Feierbergs and Tynes hit back-to-back jumpers to help UMaine back into the contest.

After New Hampshire’s Clarence Daniels made a free throw, Juozapaitis answered with a smooth layup off a quick cut down the middle of the lane and a swift assist from Clayton, followed by a layup in traffic by Tynes off another assist from Clayton that made the UMaine deficit 64-55 with 3:40 to play.

Clayton then drilled a triple from the right wing with three minutes to play to make it a six-point game, but on UMaine’s ensuing possession Clayton turned the ball over.

New Hampshire’s Nick Johnson scored at the rim and then Derry sank four free throws in a row to put the Wildcats ahead 70-58 with 46 seconds remaining.

UMaine shot 1-8 from beyond the arc in the second half, with Juozapaitis scoring the only 3-pointer on his way to 19 points.

The Black Bears will travel to face UMBC on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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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.