BOSTON — The trademark of the University of Maine men’s basketball team is surely defense.

Tuesday night, there was very little of it. And as a result, the Black Bears’ seven-game winning streak was snapped.

Behind a historic night by Boston University’s John Holland, the Terriers scored on 53 percent of their shots to turn back the Black Bears, 88-78, at Agganis Arena.

The loss dropped Maine to 8-2 in America East (14-8 overall) and into a first-place tie with Vermont. BU, which is unbeaten at home in the conference, improved to 6-4 in the conference, 11-13 overall.

“Our main focus is to play defense,” said Troy Barnies, the Maine senior forward from Auburn. “And we strayed from that tonight and it showed on the board.”

The Black Bears allowed 28 more points than on average against the Terriers, but that’s not necessarily what bothered Coach Ted Woodward. Points allowed, he said, isn’t necessarily the focus.

Field-goal percentage is. And while the Black Bears strive to keep their opponents under 40 percent, they allowed too many easy looks to the Terriers, who shot over 50 percent for the first time this season.

“They’re very dangerous,” said Woodward. “This is a game where you have to make them work very hard for their points. We let them get into transition. We let them some second-chance points. We let them get some points off turnovers. We let them get comfortable shooting the ball from the arc.

“Obviously they’re a very explosive basketball team. Give them credit.”

Holland scored 24 points, eclipsing 2,000 points in his career. He is the 13th America East player to do so. He also set a BU record for most minutes played.

“It’s a nice accomplishment,” said Holland, who also had 12 rebounds. “But it was good to get the win. That’s the important thing.”

Maine seldom got into any flow. The Black Bears fell behind early (15-4), then came back to twice take a two-point lead on deep rainbows by Gerald McLemore.

But BU finished with a 10-2 run, getting 3-pointers from D.J. Irving and Holland, and a fading tip-in by Mike Terry Jr., at the buzzer to take a 40-32 lead into the second half.

“That was huge,” said Woodward. “That gave them a nice cushion at the end of the half.”

And while Maine scored the first five points of the second half, the Terriers were well on their way to shifting into high gear.

Holland’s milestone shot – a pull-up 3-pointer from the right wing with 12:05 left – gave BU a 63-47 lead. They would eventually increase it to 19 when reserve guard Matt Griffin hit back-to-back 3s from the top of the key to make it 78-59 with 7:04 left.

Maine fought back and cut the margin to 12 with 2:13 left when Barnies, who scored a career-high 26 points along with 10 rebounds, completed a three-point play to make it 86-74.

But point guard Raheem Singleton, limited to just 17 minutes because of foul trouble, missed two foul shots on Maine’s next possession. And after a Terrier miss at the foul line, Barnies was called for a double-dribble while bringing the ball upcourt.

Singleton hit a 3-pointer and Terrance Mitchell hit 1-of-2 foul shots to pull Maine within eight. But the missed opportunies were too costly.

“Give Maine credit,” said Patrick Chambers, the BU coach. “They’re a great team and they kept fighting.

“But when you hit 11 3s and 53 percent of your shots – the game is easy when you hit shots. We haven’t seen that for a long time. It was nice.”

Not for the Black Bears. BU had five players in double figures. That included freshman forward Dom Morris, who had 12 points.

“(BU) did a great job offensively,” said Barnies. “But we didn’t get it done on defense. We just didn’t get a stop.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]