BURLINGTON, Vt. — The University of Maine men’s basketball may have officially established itself Tuesday night as the team to beat in America East this season.
Three years to the day since the program’s last win over the University of Vermont, coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears ended a seven-game losing streak to the Catamounts with a 72-58 victory in front of 2,830 fans at Patrick Gymnasium.
Junior point guard Raheem Singleton was among the catalysts for UMaine with a 14-point, three-assist performance that helped the Bears improved to 11-7 overall and 5-1 in league play while holding on to first place in the America East standings.
Senior Troy Barnies of Auburn registered 14 points and nine rebounds and junior Gerald McLemore contributed 14 points, going over 1,000 for his collegiate career, as UMaine again demonstrated its balance.
The Bears held Vermont (12-5, 3-2 AE) to 32 percent shooting while handing the Catamounts their first home loss in nine games this season. The hosts outrebounded the Bears 37-32 and grabbed 15 offensive boards but also committed 12 turnovers.
Evan Fjeld paced Vermont with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the Catamounts were unable to sustain consistency on the offensive end. Joey Accaoui tallied 15 points and Matt Glass added 11.
UMaine never trailed in the contest after grabbing a 22-11 lead midway through the first half. Vermont made a handful of comeback attempts, but the Bears were able to prevent the hosts from turning the momentum.
Vermont made its best challenge early in the second half, closing to within 39-37 on a 3-pointer by Glass at the 13:43 mark. However, UMaine responded to maintain the upper hand.
Singleton drove to the basket for a layup at the 13:17 mark, then Andrew Rogers followed with a 3-pointer 52 seconds later to push the lead back to 44-37. Accaoui answered with a jumper for UVM, but Malachi Peay drove the baseline for a lefthanded layup and Mike Allison eventually tipped in a Barnies miss to give UMaine a 48-39 bulge with 10:49 left.
Rogers and Allison provided eight points each for UMaine, while Alasdair Fraser pulled down eight rebounds. The Bears shot 49 percent (27-for-55) from the floor.
UMaine returns to action Saturday with a 7 p.m. game against Stony Brook at Alfond Arena in Orono.
The Catamounts later got as close as five points at 50-45 but Singleton buried a 3-pointer that sent the Bears surging down the stretch.
The Black Bears took a 37-28 lead into the locker room at halftime after a strong defensive effort.
UMaine limited Vermont to 31 percent shooting, although it did afford the hosts nine offensive rebounds as part of the Catamounts’ 22-16 advantage on the boards.
The Bears shot 47 percent (15-for-32) from the floor, but Vermont emerged with a 10-4 edge in made free throws.
The Catamounts committed eight turnovers.
McLemore led UMaine’s balanced effort with seven points, while Barnies and Singleton posted six each. Barnies played only 10 minutes after picking up his second foul.
The Bears held Fjeld to seven first-half points but he had six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.