WATERVILLE — The Deshon Gaither era started on the right foot for the Thomas College men’s basketball team.

Down by four at halftime, the Terriers fought back to beat the University of Maine at Machias 83-74 on Friday at the Larry Mahaney Gymnasium.

It was the first win for Gaither, who took over as head coach after spending last season as an assistant under Joe Scheuers.  It was a well-rounded victory for the Terriers (1-0), who hadn’t played another team in a scrimmage or preseason game before Friday.

“I’ve been preaching to them about being mentally tough,” Gaither said. “We went (to the locker room) and I was like ‘you’re letting the little things (get to you), you’re technically beating yourselves. I know you’re tired, but you can’t (mentally) tired. Do what you do in practice, and I’m telling you, it’s going to work itself out.’”

Guard Demetris Webster led Thomas with 23 points, while forward Loveguerson Fleurine added 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Leading by as much as 10 points early in the half, turnovers hurt the Terriers throughout the first half. The Clippers continued to take advantage, and with a minute left in the half, an Eric Crawford jumper and Marcus Massey 3-pointer gave UMM a 42-38 lead at the half.

But an 11-0 run in the second half helped Thomas, along with the play of guard Jordan Goodson, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half. Thomas also dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the Clippers by a 52-32 margin.

“The first half, we had some first-game jitters,” Webster said. “The second half, we just got it together, we stayed together as a family, didn’t point fingers, and we just kept working and working.”

Marcus Massey led UMM with 17 points, while Eric Crawford added 16 points.

Notes: Friday’s game was part of the Charlie Ryan Classic, named in memory of the late Thomas College hall of famer, who played under Dick Meader from 1972-1976. Other teams involved were the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Meader, now the head coach at the University of Maine at Farmington, attended the game with his coaching staff.

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