AMHERST, Mass. — On the heels of back-to-back disappointing home losses, the University of Maine men’s basketball team better demonstrated its capabilities Wednesday night.
The Black Bears received outstanding contributions from their bench and turned in a balanced all-around performance in shocking the University of Massachusetts 68-56 at the Mullins Center.
Senior guard Malachi Peay registered 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and four steals to help propel coach Ted Woodward’s team past the Minutemen of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“Any win feels great, but getting a win against an A10 team, it feels wonderful,” said Peay, who had played one minute in Monday’s loss to Delaware State after sitting out Saturday’s Brown game.
“I just kept my composure,” he said of the bounce-back performance. “I’m a senior and my family and coaches and friends just told me to keep my head up. I just tried to come out today and play the best that I could and help the team win.”
UMaine (3-5) snapped a four-game losing streak and handed UMass (7-2) its second straight setback. UMaine had not beaten the Minutemen in the previous two meetings, last winning Feb. 16, 1980.
Prior to a loss at Boston College, UMass had won its first seven games for the first time since it reached the Final Four during the 1995-96 season.
UMaine returns to action Sunday at noon, taking on Norfolk State at Memorial Gymnasium.
Woodward said the Bears were able to utilize their depth by receiving multiple contributions. The bench accounted for 43 points.
“This was a night where we had a lot of guys step up and do a great job,” he said. “I thought our guys executed start to finish.”
Junior guard Gerald McLemore hit three 3-pointers on the way to a team-high 12 points for the Bears, who beat Atlantic Coast Conference member Boston College last December in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Senior guard Terrance Mitchell tallied 10 points for UMaine, which received a clutch effort from Andrew Rogers. The 5-foot-9 junior point guard contributed seven points and six rebounds while handling the ball against the pressure of the Minutemen.
Rogers’ efforts were magnified because starting point guard and UMaine leading scorer Raheem Singleton fouled out in only seven minutes of action.
“Andrew did a great job. He had to fight through a lot of stuff tonight, but he did a nice job running our basketball team all the way through,” Woodward said.
Sophomore forward Mike Allison posted seven points, six rebounds — including three tip-in baskets — and three blocked shots.
“Mike was huge on the glass, huge defensively,” Woodward said. “I was very pleased with the lift he gave us.”
Senior forward Troy Barnies of Auburn registered seven points, a game-high 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Freshman forward Alasdair Fraser added nine points and senior forward Sean McNally of Gardiner chipped in six points and three blocked shots.
“Everybody contributed today. It was such a good team win,” Peay said.
UMaine, which has struggled on the glass of late, outrebounded UMass 44-37 and shot 42 percent from the floor (21-for-50). The Bears also outscored the hosts 20-15 from the foul line.
“We held them to 29 percent (shooting) for the game,” Woodward said. “We had a good defensive package (featuring a 2-3 zone) and were able to rebound effectively out of that package and that was able to propel us into our offense.”
Anthony Gurley paced UMass with 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting, netting nine points under his season average. Sampson Carter had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Minutemen led by as many as nine points in the first half after the Bears went 1-for-10 shooting to open the contest. However, UMaine was 20-for-40 after that and eventually mounted a 17-2 second-half surge to take control.
Trailing 42-40, the Bears began to gain some momentum midway through the second half. It started with Allison’s tip-in at the 10:32 mark.
Mitchell nailed a 3-pointer and UMaine increased the lead to five on another Allison tip-in with 9:05 remaining. Sean Carter made a foul shot for the Minutemen, but Rogers made two free throws to give the Bears a 49-44 edge with 8:47 to play.
A Peay foul shot, a McNally layup, a McLemore 3-pointer and two more Peay free throws expanded the advantage to 57-44 at the 5:42 mark. UMass, which shot 23 percent in the half, never got closer than nine points after that.
UMaine scored 20 points off 16 UMass turnovers and converted 19 second-chance points. The Bears outscored the Minutemen 30-26 in the paint.