The University of Maine men’s basketball team earned its largest victory over a Division I opponent so far this season as the Black Bears dismantled the University of Maryland Baltimore County 84-49 at the UMaine Memorial Gym on Saturday afternoon.
The win was the Black Bears’ largest margin of victory against a conference opponent since 1993.
UMaine moves to 10-13 on the season, the first time it has reached double-digit wins since the 2012-13 season.
Gedi Juozapaitis scored 22 points to lead all players and was one of four Black Bears to finish the game in double figures. The senior made four of UMaine’s nine 3-pointers on Saturday.
The Black Bears went on a quick 10-0 run to jump-start the second half thanks to seven points from Juozapaitis and an old-fashioned three-point play from Kellen Tynes to give UMaine a 48-26 lead in the half’s first two minutes.
UMaine continued the run with a Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish layup out of a Euro step, followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Juozapaitis. The 20-2 run gave UMaine a 58-28 lead at the first media timeout.
“We let our defense dictate the offense,” Juozapaitis said. “We kept on playing and sharing the ball. It could have been anyone, we found back doors, threes, we scored a bunch of ways.”
On the road against UMBC earlier in the season, UMaine had an 11-point lead before losing 85-77. The Black Bears didn’t want a repeat of that and put their foot on the gas to start the second half.
“We didn’t really change anything, we just stressed coming out of the break with the same type of urgency and effort and connectivity we had in the first half,” UMaine head coach Chris Markwood said. “Down at Bryant it was a one-point game, we came out and couldn’t get anything going and we didn’t make a shot and had six turnovers in the first 14 possessions. Same thing at UMBC, we were up 11 at half and lost it. We swung first in the second half and allowed us to build that lead.”
Peter Filipovity scored UMaine’s next 10 points in a row, followed by an easy layup from Tynes that, with eight minutes to play, gave the Black Bears a 70-36 lead.
UMBC’s Dion Brown scored a 3-pointer to get to 11 points on the game and finished with 19 to lead the Retrievers.
Ata Turgut assisted on two buckets with four minutes remaining and the Black Bear’s starting forward finished with five assists as well as eight points.
Turgut started the game in place of Kristians Feierbergs, who is out with a lower-leg injury that Markwood described as “day-to-day.”
“Everyone has to step up,” Juozapaitis said about Feierbergs being out of the lineup. “Ata is playing well, Milos [Nenadic] is playing well off the bench so we have the guys and they’re stepping up. We’re good in this position because we have guys stepping up.”
On the defensive end, UMaine forced the Retrievers into 21 turnovers.
“We’re just kind of realizing how good we are on defense,” Juozapaitis said. “That three-game win streak proved to us, and we’ve been watching film and coaches show us what to do. We let our defense dictate our offense and it’s been paying off.”
The start of the game was close until the end of the first half.
After the game started in a back-and-forth battle and an 8-8 tie, UMaine went on an 11-3 run that included two baskets at the rim from Juozapaitis and a 3-pointer from backup center Nenadic.
UMBC (15-10) was able to answer with a strong run of its own on the back of a couple of 3-pointers to tie the game at 21-21.
Turgut gave UMaine the lead back with a triple from the left corner, followed by a three-point play from Tynes that made it 27-21 with just under seven minutes left in the first half.
Tynes finished the game with five steals.
“He’s got a nose for the ball,” Markwood said of Tynes. “When he does that he has some timely ones where he gets a steal and then a dunk. Any time you can steal five possessions, you’re almost always getting three or four extra possessions.”