BANGOR — Husson University came into the 2010-11 season with only two players who averaged more than 14 minutes per game last winter.
The Eagles demonstrated Tuesday night that they have several players who are ready to assume more significant roles.
Husson unleashed swarming man-to-man defense that limited Gordon College to only 19 first-half points and sparked the Eagles to a season-opening 88-42 blowout of the Fighting Scots at Newman Gym.
Seniors Josh Jones and Jay Uhrin, along with sophomore Eric Modica, provided intensity and experience as coach Warren Caruso's squad earned an impressive victory.
"We talk about it all the time, that the defensive end of the floor dictates success," Caruso said. "I thought we were really good defensively in cutting off passing lanes and really getting (Gordon) out of a comfort zone and making things difficult."
Husson demonstrated early-season intensity, midseason cohesiveness and late-season efficiency while controlling the game from the outset.
The Eagles hounded the rebuilding Fighting Scots (0-1) into eight turnovers in the first 9 1/2 minutes, which fueled the hosts' transition attack and boosted their confidence.
"It's kind of something that we want to be know for," said Winterport's Uhrin, who tossed in a game-high 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and had four assists. "Coach really puts a lot of emphasis on it, to really get out and pressure the ball, because it makes it that much tougher to pass into the post, make easy, crisp passes, and eliminates open jump shots."
The Eagles stormed to a 25-4 advantage by the 10:23 mark.
Leading 7-4, Husson rattled off 16 unanswered points during a span of 5:12 to take control. Uhrin opened the run with a 12-footer from the lane in transition, then Jones, of Jefferson, showed off his polished moves with back-to-back layups.
Uhrin and Brewer's Brad Libby then buried 3-pointers, before Modica's rebound basket, Libby's steal and 14-footer, and Wes Murphy's steal and one-handed dunk brought the crowd of 450 to its feet and elicited a timeout from Gordon coach Todd Murphy.
"That's just coach harping on us, harping on us to get running," said Modica, who hails from Kittery. "Right from the get-go we wanted defense, defense; trusting each other to have each other's backs and we had it."
Husson shot a sizzling 51 percent from the field (20-for-39), outrebounded the Scots 21-15 and logged nine assists and nine steals on the way to a commanding 47-19 halftime lead. Uhrin poured in 16 first-half points and Modica added 12.
Gordon struggled on both ends, committing 14 turnovers to help fuel Husson's transition attack. The Scots, who returned only two regulars from a team that won 24 games last season, shot only 28 percent from the floor.
"Everyone that stepped on the floor defended," Caruso said. "That really helped. We didn't lose anything as we rotated (players) on the floor."
Modica tossed in 20 points, going 7-for-8 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and made three steals. Jones contributed eight points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, while Libby added nine points.
Greg Walker paced Gordon with 11 points and five rebounds. David Dempsey added nine points and six boards.
Husson wasn't able to maintain its efficiency of effort early in the second half, but eventually regrouped and continued to extend its lead.
The Eagles also received quality contributions form the likes of sophomore guards Daeshawn McMorrin and Wes Murphy, freshman guard Luis Medina and sophomore center Marc Zaharchuk of Richmond.
"We've got guys that are hungry," Caruso said. "We've got a lot of sophomores that kind of didn't get a chance to play last year but really learned the system. We got great leadership from our seniors, so there was a lot of energy there trying to prove themselves and I think they certainly set a tone early in the year."