CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The University of Maine men’s basketball team kept digging at the heels of Boston College on Thursday.

Three times in the second half, the Black Bears made a run that left the crowd of 2,133 at the Conte Forum murmuring in dismay.

Each time, Maine lost the handle on the basketball and the chance to pull off an upset.

The Eagles withstood every challenge for an 85-74 win to drop the Black Bears’ record to 1-8.

The last time Maine played a major opponent, in the season opener at Butler, it wilted in the second half of a 99-57 loss. In that sense, Thursday marked progress.

“All the guys on the court played as hard as they could and we communicated,” said guard Troy Reid-Knight, who provided a spark off the bench with 13 points. “At Butler, we didn’t compete. Today, we competed. Even when we were down by 15, we didn’t pack it in. We kept playing.”

The Eagles (5-3) opened a 38-23 lead late in the first half. Maine cut it to 42-34 at intermission.

Led by a season-high 22 points from Zarko Valjarevic, the Black Bears kept up that pattern in the second half, getting close several times, only to hand momentum back.

With Maine trailing 49-42, point guard Aaron Calixte committed a turnover that sparked a 6-0 Eagles’ run. Shaun Lawton made a layup to pull Maine within 61-55, then committed one of his six turnovers to help BC go up by 11.

Finally, Maine got to within 73-68 with 4:49 remaining on a pair of Till Gloger free throws. A Reid-Knight turnover was pivotal in Boston College scoring the next five points.

The Eagles were opportunistic, turning Maine’s 17 turnovers into 30 points.

“I think it was just composure. I think we got excited that we were so close and then we’d have a mental lapse on offense,” Reid-Knight said. “I think mostly what killed us was our transition defense off of those turnovers.”

Maine Coach Bob Walsh agreed.

“Our offense made their offense better, because some of that shooting percentage (53.7 percent) is us giving them the ball and them running down on a three-on-one and dunking it,” Walsh said. “A few times our defense didn’t have a chance to stop them. We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.”

Maine played without starting forward Marko Pirovic, out because of a heel injury. Garet Beal started in his place but left after six scoreless minutes because of an illness.

That meant the other four starters played at least 35 minutes. The Black Bears shot 50 percent and outrebounded the bigger Eagles 30-27.

“I think offensively we were really composed. We were getting good looks,” said Valjarevic, who made 4 of 8 3-pointers. “Our matchup zone defense was pretty effective most of the time. And still we couldn’t make a couple of more plays to win the game. It’s not good enough.”

Gloger finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Aaron Brown led Boston College with 21 points.

“We thought we were going to win. Our guys competed to win, and that’s something that hasn’t been consistent enough,” Walsh said. “We’ve shown up too many times wondering what’s going to happen tonight, and I think mentally, hopefully, we’ve gotten over that hump.”