ORONO — Winning basketball games is about teams playing well together, regardless of the opponent.
The University of Maine men didn’t allow their perceived advantage over UMaine-Machias to adversely affect their performance Friday night.
The Black Bears took advantage of their Division I talent and size, opening the home portion of the 2010-11 season with a resounding 95-44 victory over the Clippers at Alfond Arena.
Coach Ted Woodward’s squad placed all 12 available players in the scoring column with a balanced, well-executed performance that included 23 assists on 35 field goals.
“I was very pleased with how unselfish we were throughout the whole game,” said Woodward, who stressed the importance of being able to play a home game.
“Any time we get a chance to play in Alfond Arena is a huge benefit. We’ve only been in here twice since February,” he added.
Only five days removed from facing Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference, UMaine (2-1) had its way with UMaine-Machias, which plays in the Sunrise Conference, which is part of the NAIA Division II ranks.
Coach Brac Brady’s Clippers (3-2), who had only nine players suited up, relished the opportunity in spite of the obvious disparities between the teams.
“It was fun,” said junior Zach Armstrong of Waldoboro, who paced UMM with 13 points and six rebounds. “I’ve never played here before and I’m from Maine. It was kind of cool.”
The biggest difference was up front, where UMaine started three players a 6-foot-7 and had more height coming off the bench. The Bears scored 48 points in the paint (UMM managed only two) and outrebounded the Clippers 35-17.
“We saw the size and we knew we’d be outsized at every position,” said Armstrong, who pointed out the long-term benefits.
“We’re hoping to use it as a building block to help us win a conference championship, get to the national tournament,” he added.
Sophomore forward Murphy Burnatowski set a confident tone for the Bears, scoring 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting that included four dunks and three 3-pointers.
“I didn’t have many contested baskets today,” he said, pointing to how well the Bears meshed on the court.
“If we work as a team, someone’s going to get open, someone’s going to get those easy baskets.”
Senior Sean McNally of Gardiner saw his first action of the season after missing two games with an ankle injury. He scored 13 points and added three assists, while junior Gerald McLemore tallied 13 points with four 3-pointers.
Alasdair Fraser added 10 points and Raheem Singleton dished out eight assists with three steals for the Bears, who shot 63 percent from the floor in the contest.
UMaine had a rare chance to utilize all of its players in different combinations.
“Everyone’s getting on the floor, everyone’s getting a chance to mesh, so it’s a chance to get better,” Burnatowski said.
Nathaniel Case chipped in with eight points for UMM, which committed 25 turnovers that led to 37 Black Bear points.
UMaine ended any suspense with a 14-0 scoring burst 6 1/2 minutes into the contest.
McNally scored from down low off a Troy Barnies pass, then Singleton fed Burnatowski for a 3-pointer in transition. McLemore then sandwiched 3-pointers around another by Andrew Rogers as the Bears made it 27-5 with 11:21 left in the half.
“You always have to make sure that you can stay consistent with your principles and the things that you do,” Woodward said. “We’re always building that thorughout the course of the year.”
The Bears completely shut down the lane on the defensive end and showed off a combination of perimeter shooting and inside power in a dominating performance. The game provided plenty of entertaining plays by UMaine, including three first-half dunks by Burnatowski.
UMaine shot a blistering 73 percent (22-for-30) from the field in the first half, connecting for nine 3-pointers — four by McLemore — to lead 56-24 at halftime.
UMaine senior guard Terrance Mitchell remained sidelined with his broken left index finger.