ORONO, Maine — The milestones pass quickly at the end of the season, late in a career.
Wednesday night, the seniors on the University of Maine men’s basketball team played their last home game. It is one they should remember fondly.
Gerald McLemore scored 13 of his game-high 16 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers during a key late run that carried UMaine to a 71-58 America East basketball victory at Alfond Arena.
Coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears (12-15, 6-9 AE) snapped a five-game losing streak while sending the seniors out on a positive note.
Senior guard Raheem “Radio” Singleton tuned in for 12 points and four assists, while classmates Andrew Rogers (4 points, 3 assists, 1 steal) and Travon Wilcher (2 points, 1 rebound) performed for injured senior Svetoslav Chetinov.
“It’s crazy how time flies,” Singleton said. “It seems like just yesterday we were starting the season and for it to already be ‘Senior Night,’ possibly our last game here, it’s a bittersweet moment.”
UMaine played solid defense, holding New Hampshire (12-15, 6-9 AE) to 38 percent shooting. The Bears contested 3-point shots and held their fouls in check against dribble penetration.
“I thought we did a great job defending them, shared the ball very well, just got ourselves out on the attack,” Woodward said. “We knocked some shots down, which always helps.”
UMaine was fairly efficient on offense, shooting 43 percent from the floor while getting to the foul line often and converting 20 of 21 free throws. The hosts also committed only 10 turnovers.
The Bears hope to generate some momentum off the effort.
“We want to cherish the moment, but at the end of the day we still have a game Sunday against Stony Brook, we still have the tournament coming up,” McLemore said.
Alasdair Fraser registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and freshman Justin Edwards provided 13 points (9-for-10 on free throws) for the Bears. Mike Allison contributed eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Alvin Abreu led a balanced effort for UNH with 15 points. Brian Benson contributed 14 points and seven rebounds, Chandler Rhoads notched 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Ferg Myrick added 13 points.
UMaine led 47-42 when it put together what proved to be the clinching run.
Fraser got it started with a close-range bucket off an Edwards assist, then Singleton drove in for a layup on the front end of a conventional three-point play. Myrick countered for UNH with two foul shots, then Fraser dunked off an Edwards feed from the high post to make it 54-44 with 6:38 to play.
The Wildcats got a driving runner from Abreu, but McLemore drained two 3-pointers and Singleton added another during a 9-2 spurt that put the Bears up by 15 with 4:40 left.
“I thought that a lot of people touched the ball, (we had) multiple people in double figures, so you could see it was a team win,” said McLemore, who made three steals.
The Black Bears held a 29-25 edge at halftime after a solid, two-way effort.
UMaine was active at the defensive end, holding the Wildcats to 31 percent shooting (9-for-29) and outrebounding the Wildcats 21-17.
The Bears got to the foul line and converted by going 10-for-10.
UMaine grabbed a 15-9 lead behind a 6-0 surge that included four points from Rogers, but UNH connected three times from long range to spearhead an 11-4 burst that gave it a short-lived 24-23 lead.
Edwards went 4-for-4 from the foul line late and Singleton threw in a driving floater to help the Bears take some momentum into the locker room at halftime.