FARMINGTON — For much of the first half Tuesday night, Karl Henrikson was a bit perplexed by his team’s defensive effort.

Thus far, his University of Southern Maine men’s basketball team had played pretty solid defense and a pretty good record was the result. In Farmington Tuesday night, that wasn’t the case early on.

“This team has been a good defensive team all year long,” said Henrikson. “We weren’t real happy with the first 15 minutes. Then we turned it up a notch.”

When the Huskies did that, things turned in a hurry. USM was down by as many as 12 points in the first half but rallied to take the lead by halftime. From there, USM barely looked back in a 77-61 win over UMF.

USM erased the first-half deficit with a 23-5 run in the closing minutes. Then the Huskies used runs of 7-0 and 12-0 in the second half to maintain the lead.

“We went to our matchup zone,” said Henrikson. “I think that made a difference. It gave them a little different look. We got a few steals and that fueled our offense.”

Brandon Tomah lead USM (6-2) with 21 points, including five of his team’s nine 3-pointers. Chris Pagentine and Alex Kee each added 13 while Jeremy Jackson added 12.

UMF (2-4) got 15 points each from Pet Sumner and Ben Johnson.

“It just shows our immaturity at this point,” said UMF coach Dick Meader. “We’re just too young. We were celebrating too much with the lead. We just got away from everything we were doing well.”

UMF had the lead up to 12 twice in the first half. Sumner led the Beavers with 13 points in the first half, including a trio of 3-pointers. UMF hit six from beyond the arc in the first half but didn’t hit another in the second half. The Beavers shot just 34.6 percent in the second half.

It was a pair of baskets in the post by Johnson that made it 30-18 with 5:32 and the Beavers were rolling. UMF was hitting from the outside and getting strong play inside from Johnson. USM’s offense was sputtering and its defense was leaving shooters open.

“Then we started just shooting outside shots and getting away from the things we’d been doing a pretty good job with and had success with,” said Meader.

The Huskies, meanwhile, started getting steals off their defense and utilizing their speed and quickness. The transition game got USM running and rolling as the momentum swung its way.

“You get a couple shots and get a couple of steals,” said Henrikson. “We outscored them by 15 in the last five minutes.”

Tomah had 13 points in the final five minutes, including four 3-pointers.  Kee also hit one as USM scored 11 straight to cut the lead to 32-29.  After Conor Sullivan made it a one-point game with two free throws, Tomah hit a pair of 3’s and the Huskies were in the lead for good. USM finished the half with a 41-35 lead.

“That’s a good team,” said Meader. “They’re going to play tough defense and they shoot the ball very well.”

UMF tried to cut into the lead in the second half. The Beavers were within four early, but a 3 and a rebound by Pagentine made it 46-37. Johnson got UMF within six with a three-point play, but USM then ran off seven straight.  Pagentine scored twice and Kee hit a 3.

USM later ran off 12 straight as Jackson took advantage of space inside for 11 points in the second half.

“We hit some outside shots,” said Henrikson. “Brandon Tomah got going in the first half out of transition or off quick hitters. We hit a couple shots to start the second half and that spread the floor and opened things up for Jeremy.”

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