Strong start key for UMaine men

Posted Jan. 08, 2009, at 10:56 p.m.

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — The University of Maine’s men’s basketball team parlayed balanced scoring and an impressive defensive performance into a 64-54 America East victory over Stony Brook Thursday evening.

Maine snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 6-9, one win fewer than the Bears registered all of last season. Maine is now 1-1 in conference play.

Stony Brook, returning home after a string of five straight road games, fell to 8-7 and 1-2, respectively.

Malachi Peay scored 10 of his career-high 12 points in the first half as Maine built a 34-16 lead before settling for an 11-point halftime advantage.

Gerald McLemore scored five points during a 12-4 run to open the second half that expanded the lead to 48-29 and the Bears withstood a furious Seawolves rally fueled by Muhammad El-Amin that sliced the lead to 55-49 with 2:20 remaining.

Maine’s Junior Bernal, who missed his first four free throws in the second half, sank a critical free throw with 1:50 remaining and Mark Socoby converted a lay-up to rebuild the lead to nine and the Seawolves couldn’t get any closer than seven the rest of the way.

Peay had four rebounds to go with his 12 points and Bernal finished with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. Socoby contributed 11 points, five assists and four rebounds, McLemore finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three steals and Sean McNally had nine points.

Al-Amin had a game-high 22 points for the Seawolves and he also grabbed six rebounds. Demetrius Young had 14 points and seven rebounds; Dallis Joyner scored 10 points and had a team-high three assists and Tommy Brenton had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Maine mixed up its defenses and limited Stony Brook to 33 percent shooting from the floor while connecting on 48 percent of its field goal attempts.

“It was a great overall team effort,” said Bernal. “We passed the ball to the open people and we helped each other out defensively. We made sure every shot they took was uncomfortable.”

Maine coach Ted Woodward concurred, calling it a “very good team win for us.

“We shared the ball very well and helped each other out defensively,” said Woodward. “We had good balance.”

Woodward also said Bernal did a “great job” as the point guard.

“He kept everybody organized,” said Woodward.

Bernal said Peay gave them a big lift.

“He had some put-backs and he really went hard to the basket. He played great tonight,” said Bernal.

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