ORONO, Maine — Fans needed a game program Sunday during the University of Maine men’s basketball team’s first exhibition game of the season.
Coach Ted Woodward trotted out seven first-year players with a nucleus of veterans and the combination was more than adequate to post a 91-45 victory over Division III Fisher College at Alfond Arena.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of energy,” Woodward said. “I thought they played together. I thought everyone was engaged.”
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Black Bear women put together a strong second half and pulled away for a 78-62 win over the University of New Brunswick.
In the opener, flashy freshman guard Justin Edwards connected for 16 points and provided four rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot to set the tone for UMaine’s newcomers.
“(I felt) a little bit nervous at first,” Edwards said. “After the first two minutes of getting comfortable, playing with the team, everybody supporting me … we’ve got great leaders, so it was really good.”
Junior forward Mike Allison capitalized on his sizeable height advantage inside against Division III Fisher and logged a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 16 rebounds along with two blocks.
Senior guard Gerald McLemore hit four 3-pointers on his way to 14 points for the Black Bears, who forced 21 turnovers that led directly to 23 UMaine points. Freshman guard Xavier Pollard added 10 points for the Bears, who grabbed a 57-35 rebounding advantage and wore down the Falcons.
“We obviously wanted to have people play together, get the freshmen in there, see what it was like with 40-minute games, the referees and the speed of the game,” McLemore said.
Fisher, coached by Ellsworth native David Lindburg, was paced by 16 points and 12 rebounds from Dennis Norford and 12 points from Ryan McCorkle.
In the women’s game, six players scored two points apiece during a key 12-0 second-half surge that helped the Bears expand their lead and earn the victory.
UMaine had better success closing off the paint in the second half utilizing a 2-3 matchup zone and the hosts also rebounded well and were able to force a quicker tempo that benefited their offense.
“We got out a little faster and did a little better out of our matchup zone than we did out of man,” Maine coach Richard Barron said. “I think that gave them some trouble, too. We were doing that to contest some of those shooters as well as kind of contain the gaps.”
Junior Shareka Maner utilized her inside savvy to scored 10 points and snare a game-best 11 rebounds, while the Bears also took advantage of their height advantage in the post.
Maner is finally healthy this season and has been a bit of a surprise to Barron based on what he was told about her prior performance.
“I think she’s exceeded whatever those expectations were for her, which is great, and we expect that to continue,” Barron said.
Junior center Corinne Wellington scored 13 second-half points to go with four rebounds and senior forward Samantha Baranowski conributed eight points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Ashleigh Roberts chipped in with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Bears outrebounded the Varsity Reds 43-33 and gave up only nine offensive boards. UMaine also had a 19-11 edge from the foul line.
Claire Colborne hit four 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 22 points for New Brunswick. Jordanne Holstein added six points and six assists.