HARTFORD, Conn. – The Hartford Hawks used a 25-10 run late in the second half to help secure its first conference win, defeating the Maine men's basketball team, 80-65, at the Chase Family Arena, Thursday night. The Black Bears fall to 3-11 overall and 1-1 in conference while the Hawks improve to 7-10 and 1-1 in America East play.
With nine minutes remaining in the game the Black Bears used free throws from Shaun Lawton to tie things at 55-55. From that point on Hartford took control, scoring 25 points to lead them to a victory.
Xavier Pollard spurred the Maine offense recording a new career high in points, with 26, shooting 11-of-18 from the field and 3-of-4 from the stripe. Valjarevic was the only other Black Bear to hit double-digit points as he finished the game with 11.
Mark Nwakamma rebounded from a very quiet first half to finish the game with 18 points as he scored 16 in the second frame, while Yolonzo Moore II was second in scoring with 11 points.
Christian Ejiga was Maine's most effective presence in the paint coming down with a career-high 10 rebounds while Nwakamma completed his double-double bid collecting 10 rebounds of his own.
Hartford opened the scoring as Evan Cooper drained a trey, but Pollard answered right-back on the following possession to knot it up 3-3 with just over 18:00 minutes remaining in the half.
Kilian Cato gave Maine its first lead of the game headed into the under 12:00 minute media timeout nailing his first 3-pointer of the game to make it 8-7, with 15:11 left in the contest.
With the score 14-12 coming out of the under 12:00 media timeout, Pollard recorded a critical steal and dished the ball to a streaking Lawton, who slammed down a dunk to make it 14-14.
Moments later, Valjarevic gave Maine its second lead of the half hitting a 3-pointer with a 11:10 left in the frame.
With 5:54 remaining in the half, Pollard pushed the slim Maine lead to three with a layup, as he recorded his third field goal of the game.
The Black Bear defense didn't allow a Hartford basket for four minutes before Oren Faulk laid in a bucket at the 4:16 mark and Yolonzo Moore II followed that up with a bucket to retake the lead, 24-23 with 3:31 remaining.
Maine closed out the half on a slim 8-6 run to go into halftime up 31-30.
Maine ended up shooting a respectable 47 percent in the first half while forcing the Hawks to make only 33 percent of their chances.
Black Bear defense was stingy in the first frame limiting Hartford to just 30 points, its second-lowest total against a division I team this season.
The usually dominant Mark Nwakamma was held to just two points through the first frame going 1-of-11 while Oren Faulk paced scoring with 10 points going 5-of-5 from the field.
Sikma opened up the second half with two straight buckets to give Hartford a 34-31 lead in the blink of an eye.
The Hawks continued the hot shooting, hitting 5-of-7 from the field early on, but Maine kept pace, as Pollard and Valjarevic hit buckets and Cato nailed a trey to make it 41-38, Hartford, at the under 16:00 minute media timeout.
Pollard got the Black Bears to within two with a layup with just over 9:00 minutes remaining in the game and Lawton followed it up with free throw makes to make it 55-55.
The Maine offense went cold at the wrong time however, following Lawton's free-throw makes, Hartford scored the next four baskets to jump out to a nine point lead, capped by a Nwakamma dunk, with 6:20 left in the half.
Hartford never lost its momentum as it stretched that lead to 13, as Corban Wroe laid in a basket with 2:15 left in the game taking a 74-61.
Maine's second half defense faltered allowing the Hawks to rebound from a cold-shooting first half to finish the game shooting 48 percent, including a 70 percent second half. Maine couldn't keep pace as it shot 45 percent form the field in the second frame, finishing hitting 46 percent of chances.
The Black Bears will attempt to split its two-game road swing when it takes on UMBC in Baltimore, Md., on Saturday. That game is slated for 3:30 p.m.