ORONO — The University of Maine men’s basketball team will limp — literally and figuratively — into the postseason.
Mike Black scored 19 of his game-high 26 points after intermission, including two 3-pointers in overtime, to lift the University at Albany to an 81-77 victory over the Black Bears at Alfond Arena Sunday.
Albany tightened up its defense while erasing an 11-point deficit during the last 11 minutes of regulation, then executed better in the extra period to spoil “Senior Day” for the Bears.
“Defensively, the only adjustments we made, really, was we played with more energy and enthusiasm and our communication was better,” said Albany coach Will Brown.
Coach Ted Woodward’s UMaine team (15-14, 9-7 AE) will be the No. 3 seed in the America East men’s tournament later this week at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.
The Bears, who ended the regular season by losing seven of their last eight games, face host Hartford, the No. 6 seed at 10-10 (7-9 AE), in Saturday’s 8:15 p.m. quarterfinal at Chase Family Arena.
“I feel like we know what it takes to get it done,” senior co-captain Troy Barnies of Auburn (15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) said of the Bears’ postseason prospects. “There’s some things we need to improve on.”
UMaine also may be shorthanded in the tournament after senior Terrance Mitchell was injured during Sunday’s game.
The 6-foot-3 shooting guard suffered an injury to his right foot when he landed awkwardly after going up for a rebound with 8:45 left in the game. Mitchell had scored 14 points on four 3-pointers.
Ultimately, it was defense and rebounding that helped Albany (16-15, 9-7 AE) earn its fourth consecutive victory.
The Great Danes bogged down the Bears with a 1-2-2 matchup zone that effectively contested UMaine’s 3-point shooters and made the hosts work hard to score in their half-court sets.
Albany, which outrebounded UMaine 41-20 and scored 15 second-chance points, outscored the Bears 48-34 after intermission.
“We weren’t getting the rebounds we needed to get to start our fast break,” said UMaine senior co-captain Sean McNally of Gardiner, who contributed 13 points and five rebounds. “When we couldn’t get up and down the floor and run, that kind of slowed our offense down and allowed their matchup (zone) to get set up.”
The Danes scored twice in the last 16 seconds to force overtime. Black, who had missed two days of practice last week with a nagging quadriceps injury, threw in a 3-point runner with 15.4 seconds remaining to cut UMaine’s edge to 65-64.
“Give him credit,” Woodward said. “He made a big shot and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish it off.”
Albany fouled quickly and Gerald McLemore (15 points) made the front end of a bonus with 14.8 ticks left. The visitors rebounded the second miss and got a baseline layup from Ralph Watts (10 points) with 5.1 to play.
UMaine might have gone back to the foul line, but Woodward was awarded a timeout a split-second before a foul call against Albany.
“Thank God the referees gave them a timeout before Devlin fouled,” Brown said. “We got lucky.”
The Bears inbounded the ball in to senior Malachi Peay, whose 12-foot runner rimmed out at the buzzer.
“They made some key plays down the stretch and unfortunately we didn’t make some of those plays,” Woodward said.
Mike Allison’s dunk put UMaine on top nine seconds into the extra period, but Luke Devlin (10 points, 10 rebounds) scored from underneath, Tim Ambrose (14 points, 6 assists, 3 steals) converted a putback and Black drained a step-back 3-pointer — all in a span of 1:01 — to give Albany a 73-68 lead with 2:23 left.
The Bears couldn’t get closer than three after that.
Albany, which committed eight first-half turnovers, had only two after the break.
“That was huge for us,” Brown said.
“I thought our guys really persevered.”
Andrew Rogers added nine points and six assists for the Bears, who shot 53 percent from the field but committed 10 turnovers, including seven in the second half.
Albany shot 43 percent overall and went 4-for-7 in overtime. Logan Aronhalt tallied 17 points for the Danes, who hit 13 3-pointers.