The first time the University of Maine men’s basketball team hosted the University of Maryland-Baltimore County the offense scored at will, taking advantage of UMBC’s poor defense, which ranks last in the league, giving up 78.6 points per game.
UMaine (10-10, 4-5 America East) ended up winning 89-70, with every Black Bear helping to fill a stat sheet led by senior guard Gerald McLemore’s 29 points.
This upcoming game against UMBC (3-17, 2-6 AE) will be important for the Black Bears to climb back up the America East rankings.
UMBC is led by 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Chase Plummer, who is is averaging a team high 14.0 points per game — good for eighth overall in America East — and 7.5 rebounds.
In his first matchup against UMaine, Plummer scored 17 points on 6-17 shooting and added four rebounds. He is the only consistent scoring option for the Retrievers and will be the focal point of the Black Bears’ defense.
UMaine has been streaking as of late. After some impressive out-of-conference play by the Black Bears, they started conference play by winning their first two America East games against bottom-feeders Binghamton (0-21, 0-9 AE) and UMBC before dropping their next five straight.
The Black Bears got back on track with a tough road win against New Hampshire (7-13, 2-7 AE) and took care of business against Binghamton at home. UMaine is right in the middle of the pack at 4-5 in conference play with Albany (14-9, 6-3 AE) sitting a spot above them. UMaine had a heart-breaking 76-75 loss at Albany in the midst of their five-game losing streak.
Maine has the ability to play with every team in its league and will try to gain momentum going into the conference tournament that every team in America East is trying to make. Despite the losing streak, Maine still averages the second-most points a per game at 72.3, but has fallen to sixth in the defensive ranks, giving up 69.3 points per game.
Maine is still shooting the ball well, leading the league in field goal percentage at 46 percent. Maine has three of the top 11 scores in America East, led by Gerald McLemore with 17.9 points per game, good for third overall. Freshman Justin Edwards is in fifth place averaging 15.3, and the big man Alasdair Fraser sits at 11th with 12.9 points per game.
The biggest concern for the Black Bears lately has been their high turnover ratio, which wasn’t an issue at the start of the season. Edwards leads the team with 51 turnovers, and has turned the ball four or more times in the last four games.
The Black Bears are a young team and have plenty of time to start a winning streak going into the conference tournament. A win against UMBC would be a step in the right direction.