Miller’s season-high in points, and second-highest of his career, wasn’t enough for the Mustangs (5-2). He nearly added two more points, but an unguarded dunk attempt slipped out of his hands with 1:35 left. A successful slam would have cut CMCC’s deficit to 73-72, but the Saints (2-1) hit a pair of free throws the other way after corralling the rebound to make it a two-possession game.

“I thought that changed the game,” Miller said. “I think if I would have made that it would have been a huge momentum-shifter. I just couldn’t get it down, it slipped out of my hands. I’m a little disappointed about that.”

Misses were the norm at the start of the game. A put-back by Miller off of a missed 3-pointer from Kaleb Benjamin three minutes in marked the first points of the game. The Saints put their first points on the board more than a minute later, via a pair of free throws from Jallah Tarver. CSJ didn’t get its first field goal until nine minutes into the first half, when Kyle Houston drained a 3.

That shot cut CMCC’s lead to 14-8. The 11-point advantage prior to the make marked the biggest of the game for the Mustangs, who still led by double digits (24-14) with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Then it all went south for CMCC, which saw its lead fizzle out at halftime, as the Saints tied it up 32-32 heading into the intermission.

“We lost the game in the first half,” CMCC head coach Dave Gonyea said. “We were up (by 10) and we let it get away. We weren’t sharing the ball the way we typically share the ball. We got away from that. Our energy level was not high enough in the first half.”

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The Mustangs were helped out in the first half by poor CSJ shooting. The Saints shot just 50 percent from the free-throw line in the first half, and were just 3-for-13 on 3-pointers.

Turnovers, however, helped lead CM to its downfall. The Mustangs committed nine in the first half, then opened the second half with their 10th, which came as the result of Miller getting hit in the eye and throwing the ball out of bounds. Kareem Brown made a layup on the other end for the Saints’ first lead of the game.

Miller responded with a layup of his own, but Tarver hit a long 2-pointer to put CSJ ahead for good.

The Saints improved their shooting across the board in the second half, including making five 3s to grow their lead to as much as nine.

“They were going through our defense like butter,” Gonyea said. “So I had to try something, so I changed up into a zone, thinking that would stem the tide. They buried back-to-back 3s that really hurt us.”

CMCC cut the lead from nine down to one in just over two minutes, with three straight layups by Miller cutting the deficit to 64-63 with 6:44 to play.

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“I got to give it to my teammates, they’re always finding me wide open,” Miller said.

Miller scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half, and nine of his 15 rebounds came on the offensive end.

“When Carrington wants to turn it on he’s as good as any player in the league,” Gonyea said. “The first half he struggled a lot. That second half he decided to take over the game. When he decides to take over a game he can do it. He’s a prime-time player.”

Miller’s missed dunk came after a 4-0 run for the Mustangs. CM was able to cut the deficit to three again in the final minute, and Miller fouled Brown with 22 seconds left to try and prolong the game. Brown was 0-for-8 from the line to that point, but made 1-of-2 to make it a two-possession game again.

One final turnover with seven seconds left was the final nail in the Mustangs’ coffin.

“It came down to the last couple plays, and they were able to execute and we didn’t,” Miller said.

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Pietro Badalassi added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Mustangs, and Elijah Barbour paced CMCC with 11 of his 12 points in the first half.

Tarver had a team-high 17 points for the Saints, who also got double-digit scoring efforts from Josh McAfee (15), Houston (14) and Brown (13).

“We’re generally a second-half team, and we did come back again, but we just couldn’t seem to put them away,” Gonyea said. “We’re a better basketball team than we showed in the first half.”

Central Maine is back in action Thursday, as it travels to University of Maine-Augusta.

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