WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Leading scorer Gerald McLemore was exactly that Saturday afternoon as he scored 27 points to help lead the University of Maine men to their fifth straight basketball victory.
McLemore led a blistering, 3-point shooting effort by Maine as he canned seven of 11 and the Black Bears knocked off Hartford 77-69 at Chase Arena.
The Maine men notched their eighth win in their last nine games while improving to 13-6 overall and 5-1 in America East play. The Bears, who are now in first place in America East after a Vermont loss to Binghamton (73-67) on Sunday, shot 51.2 percent from the field (22 of 43) and 12-for-18 from 3-point range (66.7 per-cent). McLemore shot 8-for-13 from the field.
Hartford is now 5-15 overall and 3-4 in AE play.
It was the second straight strong shooting performance by McLemore, who hit five 3-pointers against Albany on Thursday.
“He’s doing a good job reading defenses, and when he does that he’s been able to capitalize on it,” said Black Bears head coach Ted Woodward.
The Black Bears had 15 turnovers, which led to 26 Hartford points, but outrebounded the Hawks 32-28 and outscored them 28-10 in bench points.
Junior guard Terrance Mitchell led Maine’s effort off the bench with 17 points (9-for-9 from the free-throw line) and three assists.
Senior guard Junior Bernal added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists for Maine. Junior forward Sean McNally of Gardiner was held to three points, but he led the Bears with seven rebounds and four assists.
“Offensively, it was nice to see us playing together,” said Woodward.
“We have a number of guys scoring for us [spreading the load],” he added. “And the fact we had 17 assists on 21 baskets [shows] we’re executing on the offensive end.”
Maine led 43-32 at halftime and shot 63.6 percent in the first half (14-of-22).
The Hawks chipped away at Maine’s lead and took a one-point lead (46-45) 5½ minutes into the second half. Maine regained its lead (54-53) with 10:42 left.
The game was tied at 61-61 with 7:02 left and the Hawks went up 63-61 on a dunk by Anthony Minor, but Maine would quickly regain the lead on a 3-pointer by Mitchell as the shock clock was running out. The Bears would score five straight points to take a 71-66 lead with 3:16 left and held the Hawks off down the stretch.
“We’re very pleased to get another road win,” said Woodward. “Hartford is a quality opponent.”
Charles White scored 18 points, Morgan Sabia had 16, and Joel Barkers added 13 for Hartford. Milton Burton led the Hawks with seven assists while also getting nine points and five boards.