KENNESAW, Ga. — Houlton native Mark Socoby scored 16 points and grabbed a game-leading 10 rebounds Saturday to power the University of Maine men’s basketball team to a 60-47 win over host Kennesaw State in the 100 Club Classic championship game.
“Winning an in-season tournament, that’s something that’s very difficult to do,” said UMaine head coach Ted Woodward. “It’s a good feeling and our guys have played well.”
Socoby, who added four assists and two steals, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“Mark Socoby stepped up on the weekend and led us,” Woodward said.
Troy Barnies of Auburn connected on all eight of his field-goal attempts en route to 16 points and was chosen to the all-tourney team. His 16 points represented a career high and he also pulled down six rebounds.
“It was great to see him have a game like that,” Woodward said of Barnies, whose previous scoring best was 10 against Binghamton on Feb. 17.
The Black Bears (2-0) shot 55.3 percent from the floor while limiting the Fighting Owls (1-1) to just 26.7 percent. UMaine won its first two games for the first time since 1998-99, when it opened with five consecutive victories.
“We showed flashes of maturity over the weekend and obviously we want to continue to build on that,” Woodward said. “We’re playing well together and we’re pretty balanced. What you’re looking for as a coach is carrying over that execution from the practice floor to the game floor.”
Houlton’s Socoby nailed two 3-pointers during an 8-2 run by the Bears to close out the first half and transform a 19-18 deficit into a 26-21 halftime lead the Bears would never relinquish.
Maine expanded its lead to 40-27 with a 14-6 run early in the second half and the Black Bears withstood a Kennesaw State rally, fuelled by an 8-2 spurt, to claim the tourney title.
“We did a great job defensively, in particular,” Woodward said. “We held them to 17 percent from the 3-point arc and 27 percent overall.”
Senior guard Junior Bernal dished out a game-high six assists while Gerald McLemore contributed seven points and two steals.
Maine outscored Kennesaw State 38-16 in the paint and the Bears had an 11-3 advantage in bench points.
“We had a lot of different contributions and we’re very pleased to come away with two wins, one against a MAC [Mid-American Conference] school [Northern Illinois on Friday night] and another against a team on their home court,” Woodward said.
Jon-Michael Nickerson paced the Owls with 14 points and seven rebounds. Kelvin McConnell contributed 12 points.
Johnathan Whipple and Kurtis Woods chipped in eight points apiece. Whipple hauled down six rebounds and Spencer Dixon had a team-high four assists.
Maine committed 23 turnovers leading to 23 Kennesaw State points while generating 20 points off 16 Owl turnovers.