Fleming and company fuel Maine past Hartford
The University of Hartford Hawks and leading scorer in America East, Jalen Ross, trekked up to the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Monday night to take on the Black Bears. Fueled by first-year forward Andrew Fleming and company, Maine snapped a seven game losing streak, beating Hartford 52-41. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball but Maine found a way to win with tough defense and great transition offense down the stretch.
The first half started off slow, with both teams unable to break double digits before the 10 minute mark. Hartford’s zone was keeping Maine honest while on the other end, Hartford’s missed shots and stingy defense by the Black Bears helped keep the Hawks from being able to find an offensive rhythm.
The Black Bears’ slow start on offense may have been attributable to a scary moment early in the half; second-year guard Ryan Bernstein was diving for a loose ball and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Hartford defender diving for the ball landed on Bernstein’s head sandwiching his head between the chest of the defender and hardwood splitting him open just above his eye. He would not return in the half.
Third-year guard Wes Myers, whose last outing saw him score 33 points, struggled to find his touch Monday shooting 1-for-7 from the field and not scoring until 4:10 remaining in the half on a reverse lay up. Fleming finished the half with seven points, on 3-of-6 shooting thanks to strong finishing around the rim and third-year guard Austin Howard also netted seven points on 3-for-6 shooting.
The second half started with Maine’s Points Per Game leader Wes Myers weaving his way between three defenders for a hard fought two points to set the tone early. Myers would finish 2-12 from the field with five points.
Bernstein would return in the second half and give a needed spark to a Maine team ready to challenge the Hawks 2-3 Zone. Just under 15 minutes left with Maine on a 5-2 run, Bernstein would collect an air ball by Hartford and quickly make his way up court untouched for a beautiful coast to coast finger roll finish at the rim to extend the run 7-2 and force a Hartford timeout. However, out of the Hartford timeout it was all Maine. Third-year guard Jaquan Mckennon would come off the bench and record three assists in a row; one coming off a steal that saw Mckennon put a spin move on his defender to get to the rim and dish a crisp behind the back pass to Danny Evans who would extend the run to 12-2.
Mckennon wasn’t done yet, collecting his fourth assist of the half on a beautiful half court alley-oop pass to Fleming who flushed it down over his defender with authority. Maine would not look back after taking the 10-point lead and held Hartford’s Jalen Ross in check. Ross was averaging 20.2 points per game entering the game and Maine was able to hold the explosive scorer to 2-of-15 shooting, with just five free throws for a total of 10 points; Jack Hobbs also had 10 for the Hawks in the loss.
Fleming would lead the way for the Black Bears with 11 points and eight rebounds, Austin Howard finished with nine points and six rebounds, first-year center Vincent Eze and Ryan Bernstein each finished with seven points a piece respectively.
The Black Bears will travel to Lowell Thursday, Feb. 9 to take on the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks at 7 p.m. The last meeting between the two was in Bangor on Jan. 11, Maine won that contest on a Wes Myers game winning shot 73-71.
Maine suffers tough loss at UMass-Lowell
The University of Maine Black Bears Men’s basketball team traveled to Lowell, Mass. to take on the UMass-Lowell River Hawks to begin a three-game road stand. In their last meeting, Maine was able to get a buzzer-beater victory, but this time around Lowell was hitting on all cylinders and collected its fifth conference win in blowout fashion, 100-68 over the Black Bears on Thursday night.
UMass Lowell was led by second-year guard Ryan Jones who scored 25 points. Jones was closely followed by third-year guard Matt Harris with 23 points in the victory. For Maine, Myers led all scorers on Maine with 11 points two assists and three rebounds. Howard also contributed 10 points and tallied an assist and rebound on the night.
The Black Bears looked to ride the momentum from Monday night’s win vs Hartford, but found a tough matchup in the River Hawks. Both teams started slow scoring the first bucket at the 17:09 mark which would then be followed by a UMass-Lowell 22-7 run that lasted until the 9:31 mark before Ryan Bernstein would score on a fast break lay up, and get fouled for a three point play. Bernstein would make his lone free throw to get Maine into double digits. Bernstein finished with five points, three assists and three boards.
Maine fought back as they always do and a once 15-point lead was cut down to just four points after a Wes Myers three points . The River Hawks would respond fast off a Tyler Livingston three-pointer just 19 seconds later and would regain control of the game. Maine would enter the half down 41-28. The Black Bears shot 10-of-28 from the field in the first (35.7 percent) and 4-for-11 from the beyond the arc. The River Hawks were led by strong three point shooting, hitting the 50 percent (4-for-8) mark heading into the break and 18-of-37 from the field (48.6 percent).
The second half was much of the same story for the Black Bears who had trouble stopping a barrage of threes piled on by UMass-Lowell. The River Hawks opened up the half with four straight three-pointers that extended their lead to 23 points. A 19-4 run by the River Hawks would last until 15:45 reaming when Eze would get into the paint and finish strong at the rim for two points to stop the bleeding for the Black Bears. UMass-Lowell wouldn’t look back after building a 20-point lead that would stick till the final buzzer, Maine trailed by double-digits the entire half. The Black Bears could only manage 37.7 percent on the game and from behind the arc were a dismal 7-for-21 for 33.3 percent whereas the River Hawks shot an impressive 55.4 percent from the field and 59.1 percent from three point land shooting 13-of-22 from three point territory and 36-for-65 from the floor en route to their 100-point outing.
With the loss, the Black Bears now find themselves at 2-10 in conference play and 6-21 overall. Things will not be getting easier for them on the road trip as the team will travel to take on the University of Stony Brook Seawolves on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Seawolves are sitting pretty atop of the conference at 9-2 only behind unbeaten Vermont and are riding a three-game win streak into Sunday’s action.