BANGOR, Maine — Celio Araujo scored all seven of his points in overtime Saturday as the University of Maine men’s basketball team earned an 81-79 America East conference victory over Binghamton at the Cross Insurance Center.
The win marked a big step toward coach Bob Walsh’s Black Bears earning a berth in the America East postseason tournament.
Eight of the league’s nine teams qualify for the postseason and UMaine is now 6-19 overall, 3-7 in AE play. The Black Bears are in eighth place, one-half game behind 3-6 UMass Lowell and Stony Brook and two full games ahead of last-place Binghamton (10-15, 1-9 AE).
UMaine also holds the tiebreaker over the Bearcats with a sweep of their two regular-season games.
UMaine led Binghamton 30-28 at halftime of Saturday’s game and never trailed in the second half.
The Black Bears built their lead to as many as 10 points at 49-39 on two Dennis Ashley free throws with 11:26 left, but Binghamton gradually crept back, first tying the game at 67-67 and then forcing overtime when Thomas Bruce scored with eight seconds remaining to forge a 69-69 stalemate.
J.C. Show’s 3-pointer opened the scoring in overtime and gave Binghamton its first lead since late in the first half.
But UMaine scored the game’s next 10 points, with Araujo hitting a 3-pointer and later converting four free throws to give the Black Bears a 79-72 cushion with 39 seconds left.
A free throw by Bruce and Fard Muhammad’s 3-pointer rallied Binghamton within 79-76 with 24 seconds left, but UMaine’s Ilker Er made two free throws to restore the Black Bears to a two-possession lead with 20 seconds to play.
Show was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to pull Binghamton within 81-79 with 10 seconds left, and the Bearcats got the ball back on a UMaine turnover before Isaiah White blocked one 3-point try by Muhammad and a second 3-point try by Muhammad missed as time expired.
UMaine made 7 of 8 free throws in overtime after connecting on just 6 of 13 from the line during regulation.
White paced the Black Bears offensively with 23 points and three assists while Andrew Fleming scored 16 points, 13 in the second half, and grabbed five rebounds. Aaron Calixte chipped in 11 points.
The Black Bears shot 50.9 percent (29 of 57) from the field overall and 52.6 percent (10 of 19) from 3-point land with White making 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Binghamton shot just 40.8 percent (29 of 71) from the field and 32.5 percent (13 of 40) on 3-pointers.
Show led the Bearcats with 20 points while Bruce had 18 points and 13 rebounds and Muhammad scored 17 points.
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