ORONO — Coming off Monday’s win at Boston College, the question for the University of Maine men’s basketball team was this: Are the Black Bears a one-hit wonder, or a much-improved team?

After a 93-70 win Friday night against Columbia in front of 889 fans in The Pit, it’s safe to say the Black Bears are improved, and if nothing else, will play with intensity and effort.

“Our first couple games, we were still getting a feel for each other, and we had some slow starts. Playing at home, it was a great atmosphere in The Pit tonight, and that gave us a little extra boost. It was about starting strong and sustaining the lead from there,” said Maine point guard Kellen Tynes.

Maine, which went 6-23 last season, improved to 3-1. The modest three-game winning streak began with a victory over UMaine-Fort Kent, a school that competes in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association rather than the NCAA. The wins over Boston College and Columbia gave Maine its first back-to-back victories over Division I opponents since America East Conference wins over UMBC and Hartford to close the 2019-20 regular season.

Friday’s win also was Maine’s largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent since that 74-48 win over UMBC on Feb. 29, 2020.

“I thought our guys played really hard. It wasn’t a perfect game by any means. We were a little bit patchy defensively, but we got enough stops and we were able to turn those stops into easy points in transition,” said Chris Markwood, Maine’s first-year head coach.


Five Black Bears scored in double figures. Tynes led Maine with 21 points, Peter Filipovity added 17, and Jayden Clayton and Gedi Juozapaitis each scored 16. Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish chipped in 11 points for the Black Bears, who shot 62.5% from the field (35 for 56), including 11 for 18 from 3-point range.

“Everybody gets touches. It’s a flow offense, read and react. We kind of just read off each other. The more we play with each other, the better our offense is going to be,” Tynes said.

The offensive stat that most pleased Markwood was 19 assists. Clayton’s seven assists led the Black Bears.

“That’s got to be the identity of our team offensively. We’ve got a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket. We’ve just got to keep shooting at a high level. When you get 19 assists, you’re doing something right,” Markwood said.

Columbia finished with a 31-29 edge in rebounds, including 14 on the offensive glass, and that led to 17 second-chance points.

“At times, we’re playing smaller. We talked about, if we’re going to play small, it will help us offensively, but we’ve got to get nastier on the glass. We’ve got to get tougher down there. We did it against BC, and that’s why we won. We kind of let it slip a little tonight, and that’s what kept (Columbia) in the game,” Markwood said.


The Black Bears took the lead for good with a 13-0 run early in the first half. A Juozapaitis 3-pointer tied it at 7-7, and a Clayton bucket put Maine ahead.

Maine led by as many as 16 points in the first half, often getting out in transition after forcing a turnover. Both Tynes and Filipovity had three steals in the first half. The Black Bears finished with 10 steals and 17 points off turnovers.

The Lions cut Maine’s lead to 64-52 with just under 10 minutes to play, but the Black Bears closed the game with a 29-18 run.

Avery Brown led Columbia (1-4) with 17 points.

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