The University of Maine men’s basketball team used a 19-5 run in the second half of Sunday’s contest at the Alfond Arena to earn their first victory of the season, 72-66 over the Siena College Saints. The run was sparked by sophomore guard duo Xavier Pollard and Justin Edwards as they forced steals at the top of the 2-3 zone, leading to easy buckets in transition, and a monster slam for Edwards.
The Black Bears improve to 1-4, and snap a 12-game losing streak against the Saints, 2-4, out of the Metro Atlantic Conference.
Pollard played his best game of the season earning career highs in points with 15, and assists with 12. Pollard sparked the Bears 10-0 run to begin the second half with four assists. A 40-39 deficit turned into a nine-point lead for the Black Bears after the run and the Saints wouldn’t come closer than 49-45 with just over 10 minutes left.
Pollard responded to the Saints’ run with a 3 and assisted on two consecutive Edwards buckets to push the lead to 56-45. Edwards would finish with 19 points and six rebounds.
The Black Bears went to their junior forward Alasdair Fraser in the first half to attack the zone. The big man responded with another solid performance posting 17 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Junior Jon Meghna added nine points, sophomore Killian Cato provided a spark off of the bench with eight points, and senior center Mike Allison added four points and eight rebounds. Allison’s biggest task was keeping Siena center O.D Anosike off of the glass as much as possible as the Sienna big man finished with 12 points and 20 rebounds.
UMaine shot 43 percent from the field and held the Saints to 34 percent.
Before Siena, the Black Bears traveled to Big East member Seton Hall University on Thursday. The 4-1 Pirates jumped out to an 11-6 lead, and never looked backed at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey eventually earning the 76-49 win.
Fraser led the Black Bears with 13 points and 8 rebounds while Edwards chipped in 18 points and five assists.
The Black Bears were within one early on as Fraser blocked an attempted lay-up by Seton Hall leading to an Edwards fast break allowing the Black Bears to stay competitive. The Pirates went on a run to take a 29-18 lead, but a pair of Edwards free throws cut it to single digits.
Edwards had 14 points in the first half in a valiant effort by the Black Bears as they only trailed 31-20 at half.
The Pirates would pull away in the second half but Allison held his own underneath adding five points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Maine out-rebounded Seton Hall 41-38 but shot 35.3 percent from the field compared to the Pirates’ 46.9.
Guard Aaron Cosby lead Seton Hall with 19 points and shot 4 of 9 from three.
The Black Bears take the road for their next two contests traveling to Northeastern University and Duquesne University before returning home to face Fisher College in the Memorial Gymnasium on Dec. 6.