ORONO — Delaware State possesses the kind of overall team quickness that gives opponents nightmares.
Monday night, the Hornets took advantage of that dynamic by pressuring the University of Maine and pulling its defense away from the basket at the offensive end.
Delaware State opened the second half with a devastating 19-3 scoring run, breaking the game open on its way to a 75-56 men’s basketball victory at Alfond Arena.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears (2-5), who were unable to come up with any answers during the Hornets’ surge.
“They’re a hard team to catch up to once you fall behind,” Woodward said of the Hornets of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “Unfortunately, they made a spurt to start the beginning of the second (half). The last 15 minutes were just an absolute scramble.”
UMaine committed five turnovers in the face of the Hornets’ aggressive assortment of defenses during the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half and Delaware State (4-1) turned in a crisp offensive performance to build a 48-31 advantage with 12:31 to play.
The visitors shot 54 percent (15-for-28) from the field in the second half, making seven of 13 3-pointers.
“They pretty much tried to deny our wings and take (Casey) Walker and (Desi) Washington away, so we kind of went to a 1-4 low that allowed us to get some penetration,” said DSU coach Greg Jackson. “We knew that their big people couldn’t stay in front of our guards, so we kind of spread them out a little bit.”
Leading 29-28 at halftime, the Hornets methodically put the game pretty well out of reach.
The visitors got things rolling with their quick-handed defense while Washington scored eight points, hitting two 3-pointers, to help provide some momentum.
The Hornets’ adjustment opened up the floor, with speedy point guard Jay Threatt running the show. He routinely dribbled past UMaine defenders to help set up open shots along the baseline and on the wing.
Delaware State made its push about three minutes into the half, already leading 36-30. Washington drained a 3-pointer at the 16:33 mark, then Terron Stowe scored a baseline layup off a Marques Oliver feed.
Alasdair Fraser countered with a free throw for UMaine, but Oliver hit a 6-footer from the paint, Washington made another 3 off a Bears turnover and Threatt cashed in another UMaine miscue with a 13-footer in the lane to make it 48-31.
“Their point guard, Threatt, is a tremendous player,” Woodward said. “He’s fourth in the country in assists and fourth in the country in steals as well. We had a lot of respect for him and we had a lot of trouble stopping those guys in a one-on-one situation.”
UMaine finally pulled out all the stops with full-court pressure and a trapping half-court zone. The hosts were able to generate a few turnovers, but for the most part the Hornets remained patient. Delaware State did a solid job running down the shot clock on virtually every possession and was often able to get open shots.
The Bears eventually clawed their way back within 10 at 52-42 with 7:07 remaining and 61-51 with 4:33 to play, but could not overcome the deficit.
“We showed a lot of discipline down the stretch, especially the last 14 minutes of the ballgame,” said Jackson, whose team committed only seven turnovers.
Raheem Singleton scored 11 points to lead UMaine, which got 10 points and eight rebounds from Murphy Burnatowski and nine points from Gerald McLemore. The Bears committed 16 turnovers.
Casey Walker knocked down six 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points for the Hornets. Threatt contributed 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Washington (4 assists, 4 steals) and Stowe provided 10 points each.
The Hornets led 29-28 at halftime after erasing an early 10-point lead by the Bears. UMaine shot 42 percent from the field and outrebounded Delaware State 18-16, but committed eight turnovers. The Hornets shot 39 percent despite going 1-for-8 from long distance.
UMaine plays Wednesday night at Massachusetts of the Atlantic 10, then returns home for Sunday’s game at Memorial Gym against Norfolk State.