The University of Maine men’s basketball team showed off their superior talent, handling National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II independent foe Fisher College 97-42 at the Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The night served as a great opportunity to improve chemistry, give bench players minutes and provide the Black Bears with some much needed rest after a long road trip. The Black Bears used their athleticism to run an impressive fast break game, pounded the glass and made sure to keep teammates happy, totaling 27 assists in a well-rounded effort by UMaine.
Sophomore guard Xavier Pollard headed a group of six UMaine players in double figures, totaling 14 points on 5-8 shooting and adding two assists, while junior forward Alasdair Fraser got his double-double, adding 13 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman forward Till Gloger took advantage of his starting opportunity for injured senior center Mike Allison by adding 12 points and four rebounds. Sophomore guard Justin Edwards chipped in 12 points on 5-5 shooting and was most impressive with his three high-flying dunks.
“It’s nice to be home and I thought it was a great opportunity to play as a team,” head coach Ted Woodward said.
Sophomore guard Zarko Valjarevic added 13 points and freshman forward Stefan Micovic added 10 points and three rebounds on 4-4 shooting. Freshman guard Dimitry Coronel finally got his chance to shine adding eight points, which included two impressive breakaway jams. The Black Bears had 10 dunks on the game and shot 63 percent from the field.
“Games like that, it’s hard to get focused a lot of times because you’re kind of thinking, ‘We know we’re better; we know we’re going to win,’” Fraser said.
The game featured plenty of high-flying, up-and-down action fueled by Fisher’s poor shooting in the first half — 23.2 percent — leading to fast breaks. With just over 14 minutes left in the first, Edwards brought the usual energy, finishing a fast break with a huge alley-oop. On the following possession, UMaine tried another alley-oop to Edwards, but it was too far out of reach. Edwards took the pass and flipped it over his head, back to freshman guard Shaun Lawton — five points, eight assists, six steals — for another easy lay-in.
“It’s nice to get out in the passing lanes and get fast break points,” Pollard said.
The Black Bears were in control right from the start, jumping out to a 14-4 lead and eventual 46-17 advantage at halftime. Fisher, led by senior forward Ryan McCorkle who had eight points and three rebounds, went on a 5-0 run with just over 5 minutes left in the first half after freshman guard Tyler Shular hit a three from the corner and junior center Chris Sadafsaz hit a pull-up jumper to cut the lead to 36-17. Micovic would end the run, blowing by a Fisher defender and getting to the rim for an easy lay-in. Sam Nwadike also chipped in eight points for Fisher.
“We get ready for every single game,” Woodward said. “We only get so many opportunities. Anytime you play anybody, it’s valuable. We learn from every game.”
All who were dressed got a chance to play for the Black Bears, as they supported their bench mates. UMaine welcomed back talented freshman guard Lawton, who executed the pick-and-roll perfectly with Fraser, and Valijarevic showed off his shooting stroke down the stretch.
“You look at the guys on our bench all supporting each other. A guy like Luke Hetterman, who does a great job walking onto our basketball team, brings energy to our bench, to our team, to our locker room and got an opportunity. These guys care about each other. It just builds so much as far as the team goes,” Woodward said.
The Black Bears followed up their demolition of Fisher with a trip to Florida State University, where UMaine was on the other end of a blowout. The Seminole’s routed the Black Bears 91-59 Sunday afternoon, dropping UMaine’s record to 3-6. Edwards notched a double-double with 19 points and 12 boards, but the Black Bears couldn’t get their offense going, shooting only 33 percent from the floor.
UMaine hits the hardwood again on Dec. 14 at Army and again on Dec. 16 at Marist.