The University of Maine men’s basketball team dominated the paint and played great defense en route to the 73-40 win over Acadia University in an exhibition game on Saturday afternoon in the Memorial Gymnasium.
Alasdair Fraser, the junior forward from Falkirk, Scotland, had 18 points and 14 rebounds on an efficient 9-10 shooting by halftime. The big man controlled the paint throughout the game, getting great positioning deep in the post to utilize his jump hook, and grabbed every rebound that came his way.
Fraser would finish with 22 points and 18 rebounds when it was all said and done, living up to his preseason, all-America East first team recognition.
“Ally [Fraser] kept us where we need to go and really had a tremendous game from start to finish,” head coach Ted Woodward said.
The Axemen hung around in the first half, as their guards would get some tough shots to fall from the perimeter. Senior guard Anthony Ashe was the lone bright spot for the Axemen, finishing with 17 points on 6-17 shooting from the field and 4-8 from the 3-point line. He had 12 points in the first half to keep Acadia around.
“We weren’t executing as well as we could, the ball wasn’t moving as crisply as it has, and defensively we had some breakdowns we weren’t used to having,” Woodward said, referring to the beginning of the game.
The Black Bears started to separate themselves with about seven minutes left in the first half with a 14-6 run that put them up 32-16. It started with a Fraser rebound and put back on a missed dunk, and then Fraser started a fast break with a steal that led to an easy lay-in for sophomore guard Justin Edwards. Edwards finished the game with 19 points on 8-17 shooting and added four assists and three rebounds.
“You can play down a level when you play Canadian teams,” Edwards said. “We turned up the intensity and got lots of steals.”
The Black Bears came out with a whole new mojo in the second half. The development of sophomore guard Xavier Pollard has continued to be encouraging for the Black Bears.
Pollard brought the energy for UMaine, starting the second half with a nifty reverse lay-up at full speed off a nice bounce pass from Edwards. Pollard would be key for the Bears’ second-half surge, showing off his strength for a guard underneath and drawing defenders to make pretty passes for easy lay-ins as part of a 16-3 early second half run. Pollard would finish with seven points, four assists, and three rebounds.
UMaine held the Axemen to a 26.2 percent field goal percentage for the game, and Acadia didn’t help themselves, shooting an abysmal 2-14 from the charity stripe.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy in the second half,” Fraser said.
The highlight would come with just over 7 minutes remaining in the second half. Edwards split two Acadia defenders at the top of the key, getting into the middle of the paint, before flipping the ball behind his back to forward Mike Allison for the easy bucket. Edwards also had a SportsCenter-worthy dunk as he grabbed a rebound and stuffed it home in mid-air for the tip-slam landing on a teammate’s back in the process.
A key for the Black Bears was their defense on 6’10 Acadia big man Owen Klassen. Klassen was the focal point of the offense but was punished every time he touched the ball. The suffocating defense resulted in 4-16 shooting for the big man, good for eight points, and he turned the ball over 11 times.
The Black Bears forced 21 turnovers and had 13 themselves. They won the rebound battle 59-42 and shot 41.0 percent from the field. Freshman forward Till Gloger grabbed seven rebounds and 6-foot-5-inch freshman guard Shaun Lawton had five points and five assists off the bench in the win
The Black Bears will resume play Nov. 10 at Dartmouth.