The University of Maine men’s basketball team got started on the right foot, defeating Laval 82-39 in Saturday’s exhibition game at Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears were led by senior forward Mike Allison, who scored 17 points on 7-9 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. It was a good game for the Black Bears to get their new players up to speed, as 11 players played at least 5 minutes in the contest. UMaine held Laval to 32 percent shooting from the field.
“I was pleased we had a lot of carry over from our practice situations,” head coach Ted Woodward said. “I thought we made them work hard for everything they got.”
The Black Bears jumped out early as sophomore point guard Xavier Pollard forced the first of 23 Laval turnovers and finished with a break away layup. UMaine would continue to roll, dumping the ball into junior forward Aladsair Fraser who finished consistently at the rim using drop steps and baby hooks to keep the Laval defenders off balance. UMaine lead 15-2 before the first Laval timeout at the 15:30 mark in the first half.
“Always want to start off strong and it always feels good to play someone new when you have just been banging on each other in practice,” Allison said.
Laval was no match for UMaine’s athleticism and size. Fraser and Allison constantly beat the Laval big men up the floor allowing them to get good positioning in the post for scoring opportunities and offensive rebounds. Fraser finished with 13 points on 5-9 shooting with three rebounds and five assists, while Allison chipped in four offensive rebounds and a blocked shot.
“We always want to strive to get better,” Fraser said. “Its nice to see all the new guys up out there.”
Pollard provided a bright spot for UMaine stepping into the point guard role. He finished the game with six points and two assists with only one turnover while getting UMaine into their offensive sets and pressuring the Laval ball handlers up and down the court. Incoming freshman guard Shaun Lawton also showed promise playing a productive 7 minutes, scoring seven points in that span and along with three assists.
“I was pleased with our execution,” Woodward said.
Sophomore forward Zarko Valijarevich would come off the bench and hit five 3-pointers for the Black Bears in 9 minutes, and sophomore guard Justin Edwards scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds while providing one of his usual highlight reel dunks to get the home crowd out of their seats.
With an influx of foreign players, it is an adjustment for the Black Bears to teach the rules of American basketball and help the incoming players with a new language.
“We talk slowly because they don’t really speak English,” Allison said with a smile. “They’re used to their [Fédération Internationale de Basketball or International Basketball Federation] rules and it’s a process.”
UMaine shot an impressive 57.1 percent from the field and finished with 21 assists to only 10 turnovers.
The Black Bears will resume play Nov. 3 at the memorial gym at 11:30 a.m. against Acadia University.