Last season, the University of Maine at Farmington men’s basketball team allowed a very respectable 69.0 points per game, and nearly led the North Atlantic Conference in that category.

This winter, UMF’s defense has been as bracing as a below-zero degree day. The Beavers are allowing just 62.2 points per game, and that’s after an aberrational 102-94 victory over Castleton on Saturday.

A lot of things are going well for UMF, which is 15-3 overall, has won eight straight games, and is 10-2 and in first place in the conference. Castleton is the only team to score more than 80 points against the Beavers this season, and Thomas is the only other team to reach 70. On the other hand, UMF has held a team under 60 points nine times.

“I think we’ve done a great job defensively, even though we gave up a lot of points Saturday,” UMF coach Dick Meader said. “Defense has been the No. 1 factor.”

One of the keys to UMF’s defense is 6-foot-3 junior Garrett Clemmer of Windham. Meader says Clemmer guards well on the perimeter, and gets his hands up quickly to thwart 3-point attempts before they happen.

In that game against Castleton, four UMF starters played at least 38 minutes. Andrew Dickey scored 33 points and Maranacook graduate Ben Johnson played all 45 minutes and finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

It was also UMF’s second game in as many days but, as Meader points out, there were a lot of stoppages, including 53 fouls and 76 free-throw attempts.

“It’s not as bad as Division I, but there’s still a lot of timeouts and deadball situations,” Meader said. “Between the two of us, I think we used at least 10 timeouts.”

UMF leads Husson (9-2) by a half-game in the conference standings. The Beavers play at St. Joseph’s tonight then face Colby-Sawyer (8-3 in the NAC) on Friday.

“When you’re in first place, you’re fighting for first place all the time,” Meader said. “Any loss will change that.”

* * *

The Colby women’s indoor track and field team finished second at last weekend’s Southern Maine Invitational — a pretty good showing for a team that wasn’t going in with the idea of trying to win.

“We weren’t really looking for team scores,” Colby coach Deb Aitken said. “We went in just looking to put people in events we need to see them in.”

Among the successes in that endeavor were senior Berol Dewdney and freshman Catherine McClure, who took the top two spots in the mile.

“They were one-two, virtually all alone,” Aitken said. “There wasn’t anyone close to them.”

McClure, who hails from Wallingford, Conn., announced herself in the 5,000-meter run in a meet at Bates on Jan. 19. Her time of 17 minutes, 55.41 seconds was not only better than two University of Maine runners, but also was the fastest time by any Division III runner in New England.

“She’s definitely a talent that we didn’t think we had,” Aitken said.

Junior Frances Onyilagha also had a solid day at USM, winning the 200 and finishing second in the 55. Onyilagha recently returned after spending a semester abroad.

Colby is back in Gorham on Friday for the state meet, along with Bowdoin, Bates, USM, Husson, and St. Joseph’s. Aitken said the Mules are missing 14 athletes who are away on the “Jan Plan.”

“We always go into the state meet with a deficit,” Aitken said. “I think we’re looking at ourselves as the spoiler. We finished fourth last year, and we’ve got a much deeper team than last year, but we’re just missing too many key people.

“The people we have are running really well. I think we’d be giving Bowdoin and all of them a run for their money (with a full roster). I think you’ll see us much stronger in the outdoor season, just because we’ll have everyone.”

* * *

The Thomas men’s basketball team picked off Castleton and Green Mountain this weekend to improve to 5-7 in the North Atlantic Conference. Jarrad DeVaughn, who led the conference in scoring last winter but missed the first semester this season, averaged 17 points and six rebounds in the two victories.

“A huge difference right now is that Jarrad’s playing like Jarrad,” Thomas coach T.J. Maines said. “He’s in basketball shape, and he’s being the leader we need.”

Another factor this weekend was the play of Marquis Pollard, a junior forward who has been an off-and-on starter this winter. Pollard was averaging 4.0 points per night and had scored a total of 16 points in his last seven games heading into this weekend. He had 17 against Castleton and 11 more against Green Mountain, shooting 71 percent from the floor in those two games.

“He played the best weekend of basketball he’s ever played in his life this weekend,” Maines said.

Maines said the Terriers are switching up their defenses more often, with the goal of keeping the ball farther from the basket, contesting more shots, and generally forcing the opponents to think rather than get into a comfortable flow.

“It’s a great group of guys,” Maines said. “Practices are physical and intense.”

Junior guard Franklin Salvador was 19 points away from 1,000 heading into Tuesday night’s game with Bowdoin. Levi Barnes of Skowhegan is averaging 16.9 points per game, and that’s second-best among all freshmen in Division III.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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