Playing shorthanded on Wednesday evening, the University of Maine men’s basketball team simply could not keep up with the University of New Hampshire.
The Wildcats outscored the Black Bears 14-0 over the final 4:11 of the first half and never looked back en route to a 64-51 victory at Durham, New Hampshire.
UMaine only dressed eight players for the game, as four players, including leading scorer Wes Myers (16 points per game) were suspended for the contest, according to Learfield play-by-play man Dan Hannigan.
Jaquan McKennon, Ilija Stojilkovic and Marco Pirovic were the other suspended players.
Coach Bob Walsh did not disclose into why the quartet did not suit up.
“The standards of our program are never going to get compromised, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Walsh told Hannigan after the game.
The Wildcats improved to 16-11 overall and 7-6 in America East play, and the Black Bears fell to 6-23 and 2-12, respectively.
The undermanned Black Bears were able to keep things close for a while in the first half, but they could not overcome UNH’s physicality underneath.
The Wildcats were able to methodically build their double-digit lead late in the half behind the play of 6-foot-4 senior guard Jaleen Smith, who scored 12 of his 21 points over the first 20 minutes on 4-for-7 shooting.
Smith also hauled down nine rebounds.
Iba Camara, a 6-9 forward, dominated the Black Bears inside, helping UNH chalk up a 48-33 edge in rebounding as he finished with 12 points and 16 boards. Tanner Leissner, a 6-7 junior, was equally unstoppable in the interior, recording 20 points and six rebounds.
Andrew Fleming paced the Black Bears with 15 points, Vincent Eze tallied 14 points, and Danny Evans 14 points.
The Black Bears were never able to chip away at UNH’s lead in the second half.
“We just couldn’t find a way to scrap back in it,” Walsh said, “but our guys battled.”
UMaine simply had no answers for UNH’s size, but Walsh was proud of the way his team never stopped playing.
“Our guys are fighters, and we’re Black Bear tough,” he said. “I’m proud of the effort. We’ll keep fighting.”
UMaine will play its regular-season home finale on Sunday afternoon against Albany.