ORONO, Maine — It was clear Thursday night that the University of Maine men’s basketball team is in a funk.
Hartford made sure it stayed that way.
The Hawks broke down the Black Bears’ defense with a patient and efficient offense and stifled UMaine’s offensive efforts on the way to a 63-49 America East victory at Memorial Gym.
It was the fourth consecutive defeat for coach Ted Woodward’s team, which slipped to 8-9 overall, 2-4 in league play.
A small crowd of some 450 fans turned out to watch a lackluster effort by UMaine, which was playing its fourth game in nine days.
“We’re out of sync right now and we have to get back in sync fast,” said Woodward, who offered he must help facilitate that change.
“It’s my responsibility and we’re going to get back in the gym (Friday) and hopefully we can continue to get back to the flow that we were in a little bit earlier.”
Hartford (4-14, 4-2 AE) connected for three straight 3-pointers during a span of 3:33 early in the second half to build a 16-point lead. The Hawks led by as many as 22 points after that.
Coach John Gallagher said controlling the tempo was among the keys to Hartford’s victory.
The Hawks attempted only 43 shots, but made 22 (51 percent) against UMaine’s combination of man-to-man and 3-2 matchup zone defenses. Hartford also knocked down eight 3-pointers, including four by Genesis Maciel.
“We can’t run up and down right now,” Gallagher said. “What we have to do is run half-court offense. We have to be about execution.”
The strong shooting performance also enabled Hartford to keep UMaine from utilizing its transition attack. The Bears were not cohesive trying to run their half-court sets against Hartford’s aggressive man-to-man.
“You set your defense, you’ve got a chance against a team that has those guys,” Gallagher said. “If you let (Andrew) Rogers and those guys run up and down, you’re in trouble.”
UMaine wound up shooting 39 percent from the field, but scored a lot of those baskets after the game was well in hand. The hosts went 3-for-13 from 3-point range.
“It was one of those nights, a cold night,” said senior Gerald McLemore, who finished with four points on 2-for-9 shooting, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
“It was definitely a disappointing game, all around, not just missing shots,” he added. “Defensively, they shoot 3s, we know that, (and) they had open looks.”
Alasdair Fraser paced UMaine with 12 points, eight rebounds, there assists and three steals. However, the Bears couldn’t get the ball to him consistently.
Justin Edwards added nine points and five rebounds, but committed six turnovers and went 4-for-13 from the field.
Xavier Pollard came off the bench to add eight second-half points and Raheem Singleton added six points and four assists.
“We didn’t get anything in transition tonight at all,” Woodward said.
Hartford was led by 13 points from Wes Cole, who hit three 3-pointers. Maciel and Mark Nwakamma each contributed 12 points.
Andres Torres registered nine points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Hawks, who shot 40 percent (8-for-20) on 3-pointers and outrebounded the Bears 32-27.
Hartford led 27-20 at halftime and wasted little time extending the margin. The Hawks manufactured a 15-4 run that turned a five-point edge into a 16-point advantage.
Nwakamma got the spurt started with a 12-footer from the baseline, before teammates Maciel and Cole sandwiched 3-pointers around a short runner by McLemore. Maciel then buried another bomb to make it 38-24 with 14:20 to play.
“At the beginning of the second half, we just couldn’t get a couple of stops that we needed to and couldn’t get a couple baskets when we needed to,” Woodward said. “They took complete control of the game.”
Hartford eventually extended its lead to 52-30 with 8:04 left and the Bears never got closer than 14 after that.
“I felt like we could have had more energy, on our home court especially,” McLemore offered.
“Offensively, nothing was going and it kind of affected us on the defensive end,” he said. “we played hard, but they were hitting tough shots and we weren’t making our easy shots. Once you start missing shots, your mindset starts dwindling a little bit and it’s contagious.”
The Hawks made their initial move about midway through the half when Nwakamma’s 15-footer kicked off a 12-2 surge. Cole sandwiched 3-pointers around a tip-in by Fraser, then Nwakamma hit a reverse layup off a drive to the hoop and Maciel drained a 3 to give the Hawks a 21-14 lead with 4:47 left in the half.
Hartford led 27-20 at halftime and had plenty of confidence going into the locker room.