ALBANY, N.Y. — Even though University of Maine junior guard Raheem Singleton was just a 64.6 percent shooter from the free throw line this season when he stepped to the line in a tie game with 3.6 seconds remaining Wednesday night, he wasn’t worried about missing them.
“There wasn’t much of a thought process. I knew I was going to make them. I was fully confident,” said Singleton, who did just that to give the Black Bears a 66-64 America East men’s basketball triumph over Albany.
“I took my time and focused on them,” added Singleton.
“He’s mentally tough like that. Those were very clutch,” said junior guard Gerald McLemore, who had a game-high 19 points thanks to a 5-for-7 shooting performance from beyond the 3-point arc.
With the scored tied at 64, Albany missed a shot and Terrance Mitchell grabbed the rebound and made a long outlet pass to Singleton.
“I was going in for a layup and they had two defenders back. I split between them and when they tried to close the gap, they tripped me,” said Singleton.
“In the previous timeout, we talked about attacking the basket if we could,” said Maine coach Ted Woodward. “If not, we were going to call a timeout. We got a good open-court opportunity and we took advantage of it.”
Albany missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Maine improved to 9-7 overall, 3-1 in America East. Maine has won seven of its last nine and is now 5-3 on the road.
Albany fell to 8-11 and 1-3, respectively.
Albany led 64-62, but McLemore’s two free throws tied it with 41 seconds remaining.
“This game showed how together we are as a team,” said McLemore. “We never gave up.”
Troy Barnies had 18 points and seven rebounds for Maine, and Singleton had a career-high 10 assists to go with nine points and three steals. Mitchell also had nine points.
Mike Black’s 18 points, Tim Ambrose’s 12 and Luke Devlin’s 10 points paced Albany. Ambrose also had five assists.
Albany led 32-27 late in the first half before McLemore closed out the half with a 3-pointer to pull Maine within two at intermission.
The lead swapped hands several times in the second half.
“Albany is a very good team and we knew it was going to be a tough battle,” said Woodward. “We didn’t play perfect basketball by any means. We had some good sequences and some inconsistencies in certain areas. But we got a lot of different contributions and we really made plays at critical times.”
“We played well,” said Singleton. “We could have played a lot better, but we were able to put it together and finish the game strong.”
McLemore, who had struggled with his shooting earlier this season, said he felt he was in a “zone” Wednesday night.
“Shooting is very mental. You have to work hard and shoot your way out of it,” said McLemore.