ORONO, Maine — The temperature inside Alfond Arena was only slightly warmer than outside Tuesday night, and the University of Maine men’s offense certainly wasn’t doing much to heat things up on the court.
The Black Bears shot a respectable 41.7 percent from the floor, but generated little offensive rhythm as they committed 20 turnovers en route to a 70-59 loss to Stony Brook University.
Although the Seawolves shot 39.1 percent from the floor and were outscored 24-18 in the paint, they more than made up for it in points off turnovers (34-7), second-chance points (22-12), and bench scoring (30-11).
“I just thought we got outworked all night long, start to finish,” said Maine men’s head coach Ted Woodward. “I can’t explain it. You look at the effort points: Second-chance points and points off turnovers… You can’t give them 34 off turnovers. That’s got to be our high for the year.
“We were much sloppier with the basketball than we’ve been all year long.”
The Seawolves, now 13-10 overall, avenged an earlier loss to Maine and equaled their best start in America East play with a 5-5 league mark. The 8-15 Bears are now 3-7 in AE games after their fourth straight loss.
“I think our last game with them was our worst game of the season,” said SBU coach Steve Pikiell, who started three freshmen. “We’re a very good defensive team and I don’t think we defended well against them.”
They did Tuesday, making 11 steals despite playing more zone defense (2-3 and 1-3-1) than usual.
“We changed it up a little bit and they got us in foul trouble, especially in the second half, so the zone helped us with that,” Pikiell said.
Muhammad El-Amin led the Seawolves with 22 points despite scoring just six in the second half. He also had just two of his six rebounds in the second half.
“Mo hurt his calf a little bit and couldn’t go quite as hard, but other guys picked up for him and that was key,” Pikiell said.
Demetrius Young had 17 points and six rebounds off the bench as he and Chris Martin combined to score 28 of SBU’s 30 bench points.
Sophomore forward Sean McNally led Maine with 15 points and 10 rebounds — his fifth double-double of the season — and four blocked shots despite getting his third foul with 17:27 left in the game.
“I think we got away from what we did down there, going on the attack right from the opening tip,” McNally said. “Tonight we came out dull and they came out on fire.”
Freshman guard Gerald McLemore scored 14 for the Bears while Mark Socoby of Houlton and Kaimondre Owes tallied 10 each. Socoby also dished out a game-high seven assists and made three steals.
Sophomore Troy Barnies, a forward from Auburn, had a solid all-around game despite some early turnover troubles with eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
“We needed a big play, but when we had some, or had a chance to make them bigger, we didn’t take advantage of them,” said Barnies.
A case in point: Barnies ripped a big offensive rebound away from an SBU player with 6:29 left and Maine looking to extend a 6-0 scoring run to further cut SBU’s lead, but he could hit only one of two free throws and — even after hitting a 3-pointer to make it 57-51 SBU with 4:28 left, it wasn’t enough.
The Seawolves scored six of the next eight points as Maine missed two more foul shots en route to a 13-for-24 overall effort from the line.
“You want to make sure you capitalize when you get opportunities and we didn’t capitalize from the line the way we can, but we didn’t shoot that well for the game overall,” Woodward said.
The Seawolves were without the services of 6-foot-9 freshman center Danny Carter, who was out due to mononucleosis.