BANGOR — The Maine men’s basketball team couldn’t keep pace with first-place Albany on Saturday in another double-digit loss.

But the 77-59 final score doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Black Bears, without forward Garet Beal (fractured rib) and guard Kevin Little (family illness), relied on five players for much of the game, and when Aaron Calixte hit a 3-pointer with 11:39 remaining, the score was tied 44-44.

It was only then that Albany (14-7, 9-0 America East Conference) took over, reeling off 16 consecutive points in a 5-minute stretch to win going away.

Freshman reserve Wheeler Baker was the difference, making three of his five 3-pointers in that stretch on the way to a career-high 21 points. He was coming off a zero-point outing in a win at Vermont.

“We knew he could score the ball. I didn’t know he could get shoot it that well,” Calixte said. “I should have adjusted better, got over the screens, make him put it on the floor.”

Albany made 19 of 28 shots in the second half (67.9 percent), including 7 of 11 from the arc. Meanwhile, the Great Danes turned the ball over only twice, getting the conference’s top offense in gear in plenty of time to end Maine’s upset bid. It was a program-best ninth win in a row.

Maine (2-20, 1-8) was able to make Albany sweat primarily because of its own offensive success, at least until that 5-minute drought. Calixte led the way with 15 points and seven assists. Zarko Valjarevic, who played 39 minutes, added 11 points. Till Gloger and Shaun Lawton each had 10.

“We continuously got beat with dribble penetration. We knew they were going to spread us out and drive the ball and cause some problems for us,” Albany Coach Will Brown said.

The Great Danes won their fifth consecutive game without leading scorer Peter Hooley, who has temporarily left the team and returned to his native Australia to be with his mother. She died Friday after a four-year battle with cancer.

In his absence, Evan Singletary matched Baker with 21 points and Sam Rowley added 17.

Maine Coach Bob Walsh praised his players for showing some fight, but felt that, as has usually been the case this season, their defensive effort lagged during a key stretch.

“The game switched when they started throwing in three points on every possession,” he said. “It’s just hard to keep up with that. I think offensively we played well enough to win any game. It’s just impossible to sustain when our defense surrenders that many points per possession.”

Troy Reid-Knight scored eight points off the bench for Maine, playing 34 minutes in Little’s absence. Little is expected back Sunday, Walsh said.

As for Beal, what was thought to be bruised ribs is actually a small fracture, so he may be out another 2-4 weeks. Walsh also said Marko Pirovic is lost for the season and will need surgery on his foot.

So players logging heavy minutes may be the norm for the rest of the winter.

“Asking guys to do that at the level we want to compete at is hard,” Walsh acknowledged.