DURHAM, N.H.-- Ernest Turner scored 21 points, 16 in the first half, as the University of Maine held off the University of New Hampshire late in the second half for a 70-65 America East victory at Lundholm Gym on Thursday evening.
The Black Bears (8-6 overall, 3-2 America East) looked as though they might run away with the game in the first half as the visitors outscored the home team 24-3 in the final 8:51 before the intermission to take a 45-25 lead. During that stretch Maine hit four three pointers, two by Turner and a pair by Kevin Reed.
The Wildcats (5-9 overall, 1-4 America East) came alive in the second stanza with several mini-runs to keep them in the contest. UNH opened the half with a 12-5 run to make the score 50-37 with 13:36 remaining on a three-pointer by freshman guard Chris Vetrano (Andover, Mass.). Maine answered and led by as many as 20 points (60-40) with 10:57 to play.
Vetrano sparked UNH late in the game with his team trailing by 16 points (51-67) and 5:35 to go. Vetrano scored a pair of three-pointers, hit a layup and made a huge steal that sparked UNH to a 14-3 run to end the game down, 70-65. Maine controlled the first half (45-25), but the 'Cats outscored the Black Bears in the second stanza, 40-25.
The Wildcats were led in scoring by senior center Ben Sturgill (Hamilton, Ohio), who poured in 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, and by senior forward Craig Walls (Minneapolis, Minn.) who scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high nine boards. Sturgill continues to play well with his jaw wired shut after he broke it in practice on Jan. 5.
Other double-digit scorers for Maine included Reed with 12 points and Jermaine Jackson with 10.
UNH outrebounded Maine by a 43-27 margin, but the Black Bears were deadly from behind the three-point arc, making 10-16 for a shooting percentage of .455.
New Hampshire will return to action on Sunday, Jan. 16 at Binghamton. Game time is 1 p.m.