Third-year Ilker Er dropped 17 points in a 108-79 preseason game versus Husson University to give UMaine its first exhibition win of the season. It was Er’s first game at the Division-I level. He spent the past season at the junior college level, playing for the San Jacinto Ravens. Er lead the Black Bears in points but six other players were in the double digits in points: first-years Vincent Eze and Dennis Ashley with 10 apiece, third-year Aaron Calixte with 11, fourth-year Marko Pirovic with 13 and first-year Danny Evans with 13.
On the other side of the court, Husson’s third-year Raheem Anderson was the game’s highest scorer with 25. Anderson went 9-22 on the night, draining five three-pointers and two free-throws.
“I feel like my teammates made some strong cuts off-ball to help me get open,” Anderson said. “I struggled a lot from the three, but I was able to find my shot later on.”
Anderson went 4-10 in the first half, only picking up two three-pointers. Still, at half-time, Anderson led all scorers with 10.
The game began with a 9-0 Black Bear run that defined the pace for the rest of the game. Maine would never relinquish the lead that would waver between seven and 20 in the first half after Maine’s opening run. Maine ended the first half with a dunk from Pirovic that brought energy into the second half.
In the second half, Husson brought Maine’s lead down to as low as 15. Husson had two double digit scorers, Anderson and fourth-year guard Alonzo McCain. McCain went 3-6 on the court and 4-4 for free throws to garner 11 points in the second half. McCain was quiet in the first half, scoring only three points.
Nobody scored double digits for Maine in the first half, but Er and Ashley scored 13 and 10 respectively in the second half.
“We like playing this game,” Husson’s Head Coach Warren Caruso said. “This is a game that the community wants to see play. We’re going to play the best team we’re going to play all season within the first 10 practices. What it does it exposes our weaknesses.”
Husson is a highly ranked Division-III school, winning conference titles in four of the past six years. Maine, on the other hand, finishes near the bottom of America East standings on a year-to-year basis.
“I have a ton of respect for Husson, for their program and for what Warren does,” Maine’s Head Coach Bob Walsh said. “He’s running a championship level Division-III basketball team and their kids come out with a lot of confidence and they play together and they play hard. It’s a good test for us, to play a team that’s used to winning.”
Walsh liked how his team controlled the pace early, commenting on how control is the key to every basketball game.
“I think we have a long way to go defensively, but we controlled the game for the most part,” Walsh said.
Third-year Wes Myers sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. He got the start while managing to go 3-6 from the paint, picking up three free throws for a total of nine points.
“I was excited, anxious. You see certain plays that you want to make, you want to go with the flow of the game,” Myers said. “I was just out there trying to play confident.”
Maine takes this win as a sign for a strong season.
“We’re going to surprise a lot of people this year,” Er said.
Maine hosts the University of Maine Fort Kent next Saturday, Nov. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 30 minutes after the football game. Husson does not have a posted schedule at this time.