Maine won back-to-back games for the first time this season when the Black Bears knocked off the Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers 83-80 on Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine.
The Black Bears, who lost six in a row before winning at New Hampshire on Wednesday, shot 56 percent from the field in the first half, including 62 percent from 3-point range, but they almost handed the Retrievers their second road victory of the season.
Maine led by 24 in the first half, and by 20 at the break, but the Black Bears went cold to start the second half and the Retrievers erased the deficit when senior forward Chase Plummer buried a shot at the 8:12 mark to give UMBC a 66-65 advantage.
The game remained close throughout the second half, but junior forward Zarko Valjarevic’s 3-pointer with 2:13 to play gave Maine a little cushion, 80-75, and freshman guard Troy Reid-Knight nailed a pair of free throws with 11 second to play to seal the victory.
Junior guard Xavier Pollard led Maine with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Pollard, the second-leading scorer in the America East Conference, nearly matched his season average (15.5) in the first half. He tallied 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting before halftime.
Valjarevic also finished with 18 points, while UMBC was led by Plummer’s 23 points and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Rodney Elliott also added 21 points for the Retrievers, as he and Plummer combined for 29 second-half points.
UMBC (4-17, 2-7) opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from senior guard Quentin Jones and sophomore guard Aaron Morgan to take a quick 6-0 lead in the first minute.
Maine answered, however, with a 15-0 run to take control of the game. The Black Bears used another 19-10 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Garet Beal with 8:55 remaining in the first half.
Beal’s 3-pointer gave the Black Bears a 34-16 lead, and Maine led by as many as 24 in the opening half before taking a 56-36 lead into the break.
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