BANGOR, Maine — Ball movement, tempo, rebounding and defense.
Those were the main ingredients in both Husson University’s and University of New England’s recipes for victory at the 41st Paul Bunyan Tournament on Friday night.
The Husson Eagles literally ran the University of Maine-Presque Isle men ragged as they jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back in a 123-77 win in the second game at Newman Gymnasium.
In the opener, the UNE Nor’easters turned a back-and-forth game into a runaway after finding their legs in the second half and knocking off the University of Maine-Fort Kent Bengals 96-85.
UMPI and UMFK will play in the 2 p.m. consolation game today with Husson meeting UNE for the tourney title in a 4 p.m. tipoff.
In the second game, Blaine Meehan scored six of the first eight points in the game, but it was a balanced scoring attack that fueled Husson’s points explosion.
Meehan was one of five double-digit scorers with 15. Former University of Maine walk-on and Hampden Academy grad Jay Uhrin led the way with 18 points and eight assists while Matt McKenzie of Warren finished with 17 points to go with six rebounds.
“Our first option was running the ball. They didn’t have a great post presence other than [Ray] Mitchell, so we attacked inside, and the 3-point shot was there, too,” said McKenzie.
Guards Nick Perras and Brock Bradford scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Perras also had seven rebounds to head up an effort that gave Husson a 16-9 advantage on the offensive boards and a 38-29 rebounding edge overall.
“We did a nice job getting on the glass,” said coach Warren Caruso, whose Eagles are now 1-3. “We tried to attack the paint as much as possible, either off the dribble or passing it in there. We didn’t shoot the 3 as much, but with 123 points, offense wasn’t an issue.”
Indeed it wasn’t. The Eagles shot a whopping 59.8 percent from the floor for the game while taking 82 shots and committed just 12 turnovers to UMPI’s 26.
“We moved the ball around very well today and it’s an unselfish team, which is good because everyone can score,” Perras said. “We got a boost we really needed. Getting a win and having it be at home is huge for us.”
Any hopes the Owls had of climbing back into it in the second half were pretty much dashed by a 12-3 run that gave Husson a 74-44 lead with 12½ minutes to play.
Mitchell led the 0-4 Owls with 37 points and eight rebounds despite constant double-teaming in the second half and foul trouble in the first while being guarded early on by Husson’s Scott Kissinger.
Devon Peaslee, a sophomore guard from Newcastle, and freshman forward Ben Rosser of Caribou each had 13 points.
It was a second straight big-time scoring effort against the Owls as UMaine scored 126 on them Thursday night.
In the first game, the Nor’easters used a 16-3 scoring run early in the second half to turn a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead and never trailed by less than nine the rest of the way.
Anthony Johnson led a trio of double-digit scorers with 27 points for the 3-3 Nor’easters. Johnnie Jefferson and Chas Rentrope each scored 15.
Jimmy Lopez led the 2-5 Bengals with 24 points. Brandon Fox and Othniel Huliger each scored 16, and Hamill Bassue added 13.
The Nor’easters wound up outrebounding the Bengals 30-26 overall after being outrebounded 20-9 in the first half. They committed 14 turnovers to UMFK’s 22 but were outshot 58.9 percent to 54.1 for the game.
The Bengals got off to a quick start thanks in part to hot shooting from the perimeter and took a 20-10 lead, but UNE cranked up its defensive pressure with a half-court trap and variable press to pull within one point by halftime.
Despite shooting a blistering 60.7 percent in the first half, the Bengals couldn’t put much distance between themselves and the Nor’easters, who shot a solid 50 percent themselves.
The Bengals outrebounded UNE 20-9 but committed 13 turnovers to UNE’s six in the first half.