ORONO, Maine — Defense was the order of the day Saturday for the University of Maine men’s basketball team.
The Black Bears provided a small crowd with a glimpse of what they might expect to see during the 2012-13 season while posting a resounding 82-39 exhibition victory over Laval University at Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears kept the Rouge et Or (Red and Gold) in check, playing mostly strong man-to-man defense. UMaine also took advantage of its superior frontcourt with a steady rebounding effort.
“We’re definitely big and we can definitely defend. I think that’s going to be a huge thing for us,” said UMaine coach Ted Woodward, who substituted freely as he tried to give his lesser-used returnees and his newcomers some playing time with a small group of proven veterans.
UMaine was able to exploit Laval on the interior as junior forward Alasdair Fraser’s power and senior forward Mike Allison’s length and agility presented matchup problems for the visitors.
Allison scored a game-high 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting and also led all rebounders with eight.
“Mike Allison did a great job,” Woodward said. “I thought he was all over the glass. He caught and finished. I just thought we shared the ball well to get him some easy opportunities, too.”
Fraser finished with 13 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Justin Edward contributed eight points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot. Sophomore Zarko Valjarevic came off the bench to knock down five 3-pointers on his way to 15 points.
Senior Jon McAllian of Bangor scored nine points on three 3’s, while freshman Shaun Lawton (3 assists) and sophomore Xavier Pollard added seven and six points, respectively.
Boris Hadzimuratovic paced Laval with 22 points.
The Black Bears shot 57 percent from the field (32-for-56), including 10-for-19 accuracy from 3-point range. They racked up 21 assists and grabbed a 32-28 rebounding edge.
Laval also experienced some problems operating against UMaine’s defense and was otherwise a bit sloppy en route to committing 23 turnovers. The Bears had only 10.
Fraser liked the way the newcomers blended in with the veterans.
“It’s nice to play with all the new guys,” he said. “A lot of the returners know what it’s like to play with each other, but it’s good to get all the new guys in there and give them a run, too.”
UMaine started well, outscoring Le Rouge et Or 17-2 during the first 5½ minutes of the game. Laval committed five turnovers in that span and they led directly to nine points for the Bears.
Already up 6-2, Allison scored from underneath off a Pollard feed, then he stuck a 12-foot jumper after a steal by Pollard. Fraser joined the party with a free throw and an offensive rebound hoop.
Fraser then hit Edwards on a cutting move to the basket for a layup and Edwards leapt high to tip in a rebound as UMaine took a 17-2 lead at the 14:41 mark.
“It’s always really good to play against someone new when you’ve been banging with each other for all preseason,” Allison said.
The Bears never led by fewer than 13 points after that and built their advantage to as many as 49 points (78-29) in the late going.
“I thought we really made them work hard for everything they got, defensively,” Woodward said. “We had a focus of taking care of the basketball, sharing the basketball. I thought we did those things.”
UMaine returns to action next Saturday with an 11:30 a.m. exhibition contest against Acadia University of New Brunswick.