BANGOR, Maine — The University of Vermont withstood a second-half comeback by the University of Maine and went on to record a 74-62 men’s basketball victory over the Black Bears in a mutual regular-season finale at the Cross Insurance Center on Tuesday night.
The game essentially was a dress rehearsal for the America East quarterfinals, as Vermont already had clinched the No. 1 seed while UMaine was locked into eight place.
UMaine fell to 6-25 overall, 3-13 in America East heading into a Saturday 7 p.m. postseason rematch at Vermont (25-6 overall, 15-1).
UMaine had rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to tie the game five minutes into the final period, but the deeper Catamounts had enough answers to score their 10th consecutive road victory.
Trae Bell-Haynes led four Vermont scorers in double figures with 16 points while Drew Urquhart and Ernie Duncan each scored 14 and Payton Henson added 12,
Aaron Calixte paced UMaine with 19 points while Andrew Fleming scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Isaiah White and Ilija Stojiljkovic chipped in 10 points apiece.
Vermont came out red-hot from the perimeter, making 5 of its first 6 3-point shots en route to a 33-28 halftime lead.
The Catamounts built their early lead to as much as eight points at 31-21 on Drew Urquhart’s layup with 5:02 left in the period, but a fadeaway jumper from the lane by Calixte and an Ilija Stojilkovic layup after a dribble penetration by White helped UMaine narrow the gap to five points by intermission.
Fleming paced the Black Bears offensively during the first 20 minutes with nine points and four rebounds while Calixte and White each added seven points for UMaine, which shot 37 percent (11 of 30) from the field in the half.
Urquhart had nine points for UVM while Payton Henson, Ernie Duncan and Everett Duncan each had six points. The Catamounts shot 48 percent (12 of 25) from the field in the half.
Vermont opened the second half with five straight points to take a 38-28 lead on Ernie Duncan’s third 3-pointer of the game a minute into the period.
But Maine limited the Catamounts to one free throw over the next 4 ½ minutes, outscoring UVM 11-1 to tie the game at 39-39 as Calixte hit a 3-pointer and then went inside for the equalizing three-point play with 15:48 remaining.
The Black Bears’ comeback ended there, thanks in part to the return of 2017 America East rookie of the year Anthony Lamb, who returned to action after missing 17 games with a fracture in his foot to contribute a 3-pointer and a follow-up basket to a 10-3 run that restored Vermont to a 50-42 lead when Urquhart followed in his own miss with 11:55 left.
Vermont’s lead grew to as much as 60-47 on an Urquhart free throw with 8:04 to play, and UMaine got no closer than eight points down the stretch final time at 68-60 on a dunk by Fleming with less than two minutes remaining.