BANGOR, Maine — With three wins in their last four games, the Husson University men were riding a lot of momentum. With three losses in their last five, and its top scorer not returning to the team for the second semester, Maine Maritime Academy was not.
The outcome was predictable as the Eagles defeated MMA 83-69 at Newman Gym Friday night, but the Mariners of Castine didn’t run up a white flag either.
“We lost our best player over the semester break because he had to take too many credit hours this semester. Not many schools have that problem,” MMA head coach Chris Murphy said. “So we were under no illusions that we were a better team than Husson. Our goal was to compete with them for 40 minutes.”
The Eagles, now 7-4 overall and 2-0 in the North Atlantic Conference, never trailed and were never tied as they flew out to leads of 4-0 and 17-5, led by as many as 20 points, and finally posted the win despite a game-ending 9-1 run by the Mariners.
“We had an opportunity to explore some rotations on the floor and give some people some good chunks of minutes, so it was a real positive thing for us today,” said Husson coach Warren Caruso. “What we’re trying to do now is find some rhythm in the game and for the most part, we’ve done that well.”
Josh Jones led the Eagles, scoring-wise, for a second straight game with 19 points and added three steals. The sophomore forward from Jefferson also had five rebounds and two assists.
“I feel I’m getting more opportunities because of the guys we have who teams double, plus having Jay [Uhrin] and Matt Cummings in the starting lineup has really opened things up for me,” Jones said. “Being able to rip through and go to the hole is easier for me with my quickness, but if [Matt] MacKenzie’s man drifts over, I can pass it off to him.”
MacKenzie finished with 17 points despite getting just one rebound, and Phil Leighton came off the bench to score 12 points, grab five boards and make two steals.
The Eagles outrebounded the Mariners 40-35.
“We’re rebounding much better for a second game in a row, but we’re still turning the ball over a little too much,” said Caruso.
The Eagles had 20 turnovers to MMA’s 23 and outshot the Mariners 47.7 percent from the field to 38.7.
Tyler Pineo, a sophomore guard from Corinth, led the 4-8 Mariners with 17 points by canning five 3-pointers.
After shooting 25 percent (4-for-16) from 3-point range in the first half, the Mariners were only slightly better (4-for-12) in the second.
“We know they’ll take some things away from us because we’re not extraordinarily quick on the perimeter, but we weren’t patient enough getting our shots,” said Murphy.
Ben Russell of Farmington had 13 points to go with a game-high eight assists. Jarred Sternbergh of Jonesboro had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mariners.
“We started out this season with two kids who had any typical college basketball before, so we still have a lot of lessons to learn,” Murphy said.