BRUNSWICK — It’s no secret what the Bowdoin men’s basketball team tries to do on offense: Get the ball inside to 7-foot senior center John Swords.

Even when the Polar Bears are unable to feed the ball to him, Swords can have an impact.

That was the case Sunday afternoon.

Swords scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Bowdoin to a 76-61 win against the University of Southern Maine at Morrell Gymnasium.

“Their size was the difference,” USM Coach Karl Henriksen said. “We knew we had to give up something to help on Swords, and they stretched us out.”

Swords got plenty of help. Bryan Hurley, a senior point guard, scored 17 points and had six assists. Lucas Hausman, a junior guard, contributed 14 points, and Matt Palecki, a senior forward, chipped in with 12.

USM’s Jacob Littlefield, a 6-5 junior forward from Mechanic Falls, led all scorers with 23 points.

It was the third consecutive win for the Polar Bears, who took the lead for the good in the last five minutes of the first half.

The score was tied or the lead changed hands 10 times in the first 15 minutes, but the outside shooting of Palecki helped fuel a 10-1 run just before halftime.

“Palecki hit the shots that we wanted him to take,” Henriksen said. “He was 1 for 10 in 3s this year, and he made two against us.”

Palecki made two 3-pointers from the left corner and fed the ball to Hausman for a fast-break basket, helping the Polar Bears open a 34-27 lead.

“(Palecki is) an energy kid and he brings that all the time,” Bowdoin Coach Tim Gilbride said. “He’s always crashing the boards. He’s always talking on (defense), always working. We feed off him energy-wise.”

Swords had to work hard for his points, but he took control in the first five minutes of the second half, scoring eight points on either tip-ins or putbacks as Bowdoin stretched its lead to 46-33.

“We went inside to some other guys because they were keying on him, and then he worked hard to get into position and make some big plays,” Gilbride said. “That kind of was the difference in the game. That kind of opened things up a bit.”

It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Huskies, who made a run midway through the second half. USM (3-8) reeled off 10 consecutive points to close to within 55-51 with 7:13 left, but Bowdoin (7-3) responded with an 11-2 run.

“We’re a team that is going to be able to play with most people, but they can play with us, too,” Gilbride said. “It’s not like we’re a quick, up-and-down (team). Our games are going to be close. It also comes down to who has the spurt at the end.”