PROVIDENCE, R.I. — If Coach Bob Walsh had one Christmas wish, it would be for his Maine men’s basketball team to learn to play with a lead.

This time the Black Bears built a 16-point lead before losing 82-77 at Brown.

Maine (4-9) led 51-35 with 16:28 left before Brown (8-5) rallied to a 69-59 lead.

Maine closed within 73-71 with 2:26 left before Brown went on to win for the seventh time in their last eight games.

“It’s a mentality we have to get, which is handling success, how hard it’s going to be to win, and playing really, really tough in a hard game like that but being composed as well,” Walsh said. “As they started to sneak back into the game, mentally I felt like we lost our composure a little bit.

“We stopped doing what made us successful in the first half, which was really sharing the ball, being strong with it and playing with confidence. We had some trips where we had three or four good looks in a row and the ball didn’t go in. We missed a couple 3s and a couple layups.”

Freshman Andrew Fleming finished with career highs in points (23) and rebounds (14) for Maine. Marko Pirovic added 16 points, and Austin Howard notched 14 while going 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Steven Spieth – the brother of golfer Jordan Spieth, who attended the game – led Brown with 27 points.Tavon Blackmon added 16 and J.R. Hobbie 15.

“In the second half we really didn’t come out and compete as well as we could have,” Fleming said. “It’s kind of disappointing but at the same time we did a lot of great things.

“Over the past couple weeks we’ve done a lot of great things in terms of being able to compete the whole game. We’re going to be focused when we get back.”

No matter the lead, what’s relevant for Fleming is the Black Bears playing hard from start to finish.

“I don’t think it depends on the score,” Fleming said. “I think it’s coming out and competing all 40 minutes. It doesn’t matter what the score is, who’s playing or who’s not playing. We’ve got to compete.”

After building a 25-20 lead, Maine closed the first half with a 15-7 run that included 10 points from Fleming for a 40-27 lead.

In the first half, Maine shot 54.8 percent from the floor and scored 24 points in the paint. Each of Fleming’s seven first-half baskets came within five feet of the rim.

Fleming’s three-point play, plus 3-pointers by Howard and Marko Pirovic, helped Maine build its 51-35 lead.

Brown then turned it on with Spieth scoring 21 points and the Bears shooting 46.7 percent from beyond the arc.

“Defensively, they started getting downhill on us,” Walsh said. “Our rotations were late. Our coverage was bad. They really started attacking and because we were late, we fouled way too much.

“That allowed them to score a lot of points at the line (27 of 36 for 75 percent).”

When Maine pulled within 73-71, Fleming felt the team maintained an air of confidence.

“I think we were confident that we were coming back,” he said. “But I think it was just too late.

“We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to compete.”


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