Hot-shooting Maine frustrates UAlbany

Shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and connecting on 47.1 percent from three-point range, Mai
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Shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor and connecting on 47.1 percent from three-point range, Maine didn’t need much help in defeating the University at Albany.

But the Great Danes did their share to sink their own hopes Thursday night at SEFCU Arena.

Sophomore Gerald McLemore poured in 21 points to lead three double-digit scorers, and the Black Bears forced 18 turnovers, including six in the final five minutes, en route to a 63-54 victory.

Maine, the most improved team in the America East Conference, is 4-1 in the league and 12-6 overall. Albany drops to 1-5 and 6-15.

“It was probably a combination of our poor decisions and their defense,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown about his team’s miscues. “We didn’t have our leading scorer and our leading rebounder, and he would have at least drawn some attention.

“You can’t turn the ball over in any sport. Turnovers will kill you. Our easy turnovers led to easy baskets for them. We gave them 10 breakaway layups. When you do that, you will shoot 60 percent.”

Junior guard Tim Ambrose, the Danes’ second-leading scorer, tried to carry the team in the final minutes, but he committed several turnovers. He finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists, but he also turned the ball over eight times.

“The good thing about Tim is that he attacked the basket,” said Brown. “But we have to get him to read defenses better. He can’t be a high-risk, high-reward player. We need him to make better decisions. That’s the problem.”

Ambrose felt frustrated with the way he played down the stretch.

“I can get in the lane, but I made a lot of careless reads. I was trying to be aggressive,” said Ambrose. “But I wasn’t too smart trying to split defenders. I made careless turnovers. I’ve got to make better decisions at the end of games.”

Albany used an 11-0 run early in the first half to open up a 13-7 lead, but the Black Bears, behind the hot shooting of McLemore, rallied for a 27-24 halftime edge. McLemore, who averages 13 points per game, already had 13 by intermission.

Maine owned a 46-43 lead with 7:57 left, but the Danes appeared to take some of the momentum away when they trapped Maine post player Sean McNally near the top of the key. But McNally turned and buried a three-pointer just as the buzzer sounded on the 30-second clock, and the Bears began pulling away once more.

Maine led, 56-45, with 4:14 left. Albany’s turnovers in the final few minutes prevented its comeback attempt.

“Tim didn’t have much of a supporting cast behind him,” said Billy Allen, who was one of the players who picked up the minutes that senior forward Will Harris would have played. Harris missed the game because of a contusion on his left knee.

”I feel frustrated for them, not frustrated at them,” said Brown of the Great Danes. “We have a good group of kids, but we’re searching, right now. We’ve got some growing pains with all the young kids we’re playing.”

Maine coach Ted Woodward said the key to the game was the Bears’ defense.

“We’ve been playing great defense,” he said. “Most of the time, we’ve been holding our opponents in the 30s, as far as field goal shooting. Ambrose made it difficult For us all night, and [Brett] Gifford stepped up for them, but defense is our constant.”

Gifford finished with six points in just 14 minutes for Albany, which shot 40 percent and outrebounded the Bears, 26-22.

MAINE (63)

Barnies 1-4 1-2 3, McNally 5-6 2-2 14, Burnatowski 1-4 0-0 2, Bernal 3-5 3-8 9, McLemore 8-12 0-2 21, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell 3-4 5-8 12, Peay 1-1 0-0 2, Allison 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-37 11-22 63.

ALBANY (54)

Aronhalt 2-7 4-4 8, McRae 2-5 0-0 4, Metcalf 1-2 0-0 2, Black 1-3 0-0 3, Ambrose 7-19 6-6 24, Urli 2-3 1-1 5, Tartt 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 0-2 2-2 2, Gifford 3-3 0-0 6. Totals: 18-45 13-13 54.

Halftime: Maine 27-24. Three-point goals: Albany 8-17 (Barnies 0-1, McNally

2-2, Burnatowski 0-2, Bernal 0-1, McLemore 5-9, Mitchell 1-2), Albany 5-16 (Aronhalt 0-4, Black 1-2, Ambrose 4-8, Allen 0-2). Rebounds: Maine 22 (Bernal 6), Albany 26 (Ambrose 8). Assists: Maine 10 (Burn­atowski 3, Bernal 3), Albany 10 (Ambrose 3). Personal fouls: Maine 15, Albany 22. Fouled out: Black. Officials: Brian Dorsey, Jeffrey Smith, Gary Tracy. Attendance: 1,823.

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