ALBANY, N.Y. — The University at Albany scored 45 second-half points Saturday night, using an effective transition attack to register a 76-63 America East men’s basketball victory over the University of Maine at SEFCU Arena.
Great Danes guard Mike Black poured in a career-best 28 points to provide the impetus for Albany, which ran its record to 14-4 overall, 3-1 in conference play.
“Mike Black proved that he’s an all-conference level guy tonight, again,” said UMaine head coach Ted Woodward. “I thought he made a lot of plays that were a difference in the game.”
UMaine (7-10, 2-2 AE) dropped its second straight contest after winning four in a row.
Albany took advantage of its aggressive approach on the offensive end in the second half. The hosts shot 52 percent from the floor (12-for-23) in the half and went to the foul line frequently on the way to making 20 of 24 free throws in the final 20 minutes.
The Great Danes also bottled up the middle and forced the Bears to make some shots from the outside.
“They did a good job defensively,” Woodward said. “We have some plays, in and around the basket, we just couldn’t come up with. It took some time for our 3-point shooting to come around.”
Black complemented his scoring with four rebounds, four assists and three steals for the winners. Jacob Iati tossed in 14 points and Sam Rowley posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Black Bears got into foul trouble and appeared to be back on their heels a bit in the second half. Junior Alasdair Fraser led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore guard Xavier Pollard contributed 15 points and five rebounds.
UMaine received 13 points from Justin Edwards and Mike Allison provided six points and 10 rebounds. The Bears shot only 25 percent (5-for-20) from 3-point range despite connecting at 41 percent overall for the game.
Albany outscored UMaine 23-8 from the foul line as the Bears committed 21 fouls to only 11 for the Great Danes.
“They average getting to the line a bunch and they’re very good free-throw shooters,” Woodward said. “They did a great job creating contact, getting to the line.”
The hosts scored the last six points of the first half to grab a 31-29 edge, then kicked off the second half with a strong surge that gave them the lead for good.
With the score knotted at 33-33, Black hit a jumper that ignited a key 10-2 burst. Peter Hooley followed with a conventional three-point play, then Iati connected for a 3-pointer that made it 41-33 with 14:26 remaining.
“They made that little push, got themselves up eight points and from that point on, I thought it was a couple points here, a couple points there, just playing catch-up the rest of the way,” Woodward said.
The Great Danes eventually extended the advantage to 15 points (58-43) with 8:22 to play, but UMaine countered with a 10-1 burst that got the Bears within 59-53 on a Jon Mesghna 3-pointer with 6:27 left.
Albany answered and put the game out of reach.
The Black Bears return to action Saturday when they host Binghamton in a 2 p.m. contest at Memorial Gym.