Andrew Fleming not only scored his 1,000th career point for the University of Maine men’s basketball program Wednesday night, he got a big jump on his next thousand.
The 6-foot-7 All-America East senior forward, who entered the Black Bears’ season opener against Merrimack College needing 12 points to reach the milestone, finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as UMaine scored an 84-64 victory over the Warriors at the Cross Insurance Center.
Fleming shot 12 of 18 from the field and 13 of 15 from the free-throw line as UMaine jumped out to a big lead early in the contest and then put the game away with a 17-0 second-half run.
The product of Oxford Hills High School in South Paris scored his 1,000th point on a free throw that completed a three-point play with 10:30 left in the first half.
That point also capped off a 12-0 UMaine run that gave coach Richard Barron’s club a quick 20-5 lead — with Fleming scoring 10 of the unanswered dozen.
Fleming finished the half with 20 points as the Black Bears maintained a 43-33 advantage.
Merrimack — playing its first game as an NCAA Division I program after reaching the NCAA Division II Tournament each of the last three years — didn’t go quietly, drawing as close as 52-46 on a scoop shot by Juvaris Hayes with 14:46 left on the game.
Two free throws apiece by Fleming and junior forward Vilgot Larsson then started UMaine’s game-deciding run, with the two frontcourt mates combining for 12 points along with a steal and lob by Fleming that set up a fast-break slam by junior forward Nedeljko Prijovic.
Merrimack (0-1) went scoreless for nearly six minutes as the Black Bears took their largest lead at 69-46 on a follow-up shot by Fleming with nine minutes left.
UMaine shot 54 percent (28 of 50) for the game, largely due to offensive execution that featured the high post-low post work of Fleming and the 6-foot-8 Larsson.
Larsson finished the night making 7 of 11 shots from the field and all four of his free throws to amass 19 points and five assists.
Fleming finished just one point shy of his UMaine career high, a 38-point outburst at UMass Lowell last season.
Senior guard Sergio El Darwich added 12 points and six assists while Prijovic — the fourth Black Bear to play all 40 minutes — contributed seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds in his first game for UMaine.
Jordan Minor, a 6-8 freshman, led Merrimack with 16 points, while Jaleel Lord and Ziggy Reid scored 12 points each and Hayes finished with 10.
UMaine returns to action Sunday with the first of eight straight games away from Greater Bangor as they visit Ivy League preseason favorite Harvard in a 2 p.m. start.