WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The defensive woes continued Thursday night for the University of Maine men’s basketball team.
Senior guard Joe Zeglinski went 7-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc on his way to a career-high 33 points and Hartford connected on 13 3-pointers while posting a convincing America East men’s basketball victory at Chase Family Arena, the site of next month’s conference tournament.
The Hawks (8-16, 5-6 AE) went 13-for-29 (45 percent) from long distance on their way to beating the Black Bears for the second time this season.
“They’re hot and they’re cold because of the way that they play,” UMaine coach Ted Woodward said of the Hawks’ 3-point attack. “They’re very good on the nights that they shoot it (well). Tonight (Zeglinski) was on fire.”
UMaine (14-10, 8-4 AE) suffered its third consecutive loss and is in a virtual tie with Boston University (13-13, 8-4 AE) for second place behind Vermont in the league standings.
The Bears now head to Long Island for Saturday’s 11 a.m. contest against Stony Brook. That game will be televised live on ESPNU.
At Hartford, Zeglinski also grabbed nine rebounds and made four steals for the Hawks, who shot 51 percent for the game and outrebounded the Bears 35-25.
Ryan Baker added eight points for Hartford, which welcomed back Morgan Sabia (7 points, 5 rebounds), who had missed the last couple of games with a knee injury.
Woodward is concerned about the Bears’ lackluster defense in recent games.
“For some reason, we’re not in the defensive rhythm we were for a while,” he said.
“We just need to get back to playing defense with a sense of urgency,” Woodward added. “Unfortunately, it’s been a little bit of an issue for us for four games now.”
Gerald McLemore was UMaine’s only double-figure scorer with 18 points. Raheem Singleton added nine points, while Alasdair Fraser and Terrance Mitchell posted eight points each.
Senior forward Troy Barnies of Auburn was limited to six points and three rebounds in 33 minutes for the Bears, who connected at a 48 percent clip but went only 5-for-17 (29 percent) on 3-pointers.
UMaine also committed 17 turnovers, including 11 in the first half.
“We’ve got to do a better job taking care of the ball,” said Woodward, who explained the Bears’ defensive woes and a propensity for turnovers have prevented them for taking advantage of their quick-striking transition game.
The Hawks cruised to a 40-29 halftime advantage with prolific 3-point shooting.
Zeglinski went 5-for-8 from behind the arc on his way to 19 points in the first 20 minutes to spearhead the Hartford charge. Hartford went 10-for-19 (53 percent) from long distance.
Hartford took control with a key 12-0 spurt in the first half. With UMaine leading 14-12, Baker sparked the run with a 3-pointer with 12:41 to play, giving the hosts a lead they would not relinquish.
Zeglinski then cashed in on back-to-back turnovers by the Bears, hitting 3-pointers 39 seconds apart. Clayton Brothers ended the run with another 3-pointer that supplied Hartford with a 24-14 lead with 9:58 to play in the half.
UMaine was never able to get closer than six points after that juncture and the Hawks actually stretched their advantage to 17 points (72-55) with 1:40 remaining in the contest.
“Teams, if you look at their 3-point percentage all the last four games, that’s really the area where it’s spiked,” Woodward said of opponents’ success. “We’ve got to do a better job helping each other out and guarding on the arc.”
UMaine committed 11 first-half turnovers that led to 16 Hartford points, including four 3-point baskets.
When the Bears did take care of the ball, they shot 55 percent from the floor (12-for-22). Four players scored six points apiece in the half for UMaine.
The Bears got within six (24-18) on a Barnies hoop at the 8:54 mark, but the hosts maintained the upper hand and the momentum behind Zeglinski’s long-range shooting.