After dropping their last four decisions, the UMaine Black Bears (5-18) won in heroic fashion at the hands of fourth-year guard Aaron Calixte. With just 23 seconds left in the game, Calixte hit a contested three-pointer to give the Black Bears the lead.
“Just make the play for the team man. We work in every practice. That moment I had to make one for my team,” Calixte said after the game. The guard scored 24 points, a career best, in the game. He was 9 of 20 from the field and 3 of 9 from beyond the arc. Following Calixte’s impressive 24 point outing, second-year forward Andrew Fleming scored 15 points and was a perfect 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
The Black Bears were a perfect 12 for 12 from the line as a team.
“Every practice, lots of shots, man. Coach emphasizes that so much. Every practice we shoot maybe a hundred free throws,” Calixte said about the team’s foul shooting.
The UNH shooters struggled at the foul line as they were 9 of 15, a dismal 60 percent.
Regular starters Calixte and Fleming were leading the offense, but it was Maine third-year guard Vernon Lowndes Jr. who stole the show. Lowndes Jr. scored 15 points off the bench. He shot a game best 6 for 8 from the field and a perfect 3 for 3 from the three-point line.
Representing the Black Bears on the defensive end was second-year guard Isaiah White, who collected a season-high 13 rebounds.
“He’s huge every game. The sky’s the limit for him. He has so much energy, so much bounce. He’s great,” Calixte said of his teammate on the performance.
On top of the 13 rebounds, White recorded two steals, a block and chipped in on the offense with eight points. He also contributed two of the team’s 12 perfect free-throws.
“Overall, great effort from the team. Tonight, we had a different kind of energy. We got down a little bit and kept making tough plays down the stretch, Andrew and Ilya. It was a big effort from everyone,” Calixte said.
UNH fourth-year forward Tanner Leissner carried the offense for the Wildcats. While second-year guard John Ogwuche lead the team with 19 points, the 6-foot-7 Texas-native Leissner scored 18 points, collected a team best five rebounds, and dished a team best three assists.
New Hampshire will take on Binghamton on Saturday from Vestal, NY.
Black Bear men’s lose in Baltimore
The Black Bears lost to the University of Maryland Baltimore County (15-8) in Baltimore 74-86. Following an exciting win against UNH on Wednesday, Maine failed to capitalize away. UMBC maintained their elite home field advantage by extending their undefeated stretch at home to an impressive 11 games.
This weekend it was White who carried the Black Bear offense. White scored a team best 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the contest. White was efficient from the floor as he shot 9 of 12 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. He also snagged two steals, dished three assists, recorded no turnovers and played a strong 32 minutes before fouling out late in the game.
Calixte improved on shot conversion in this game compared to his 9 of 20, 24-point outing on Wednesday. Calixte made 6 of his 9 shot attempts, including a perfect two for two from beyond the arc. He tied White for a team best of three assists. Calixte had 14 points in the game and played a game high 37 minutes.
Without a doubt the star of the game was UMBC guard Jairus Lyles. Lyles, a UMBC graduate student, scored a game high 34 points in the contest. Lyles was a brilliant 7 of 11 on 3-pointers, a season best for the guard. He averages 21.1 points per game, a team high. Lyles also grabbed six rebounds, four steals and two assists.
UMaine maintained their strong free-throw shooting by beating UMBC at the line. The Black Bears followed up a perfect 12 for 12 team shooting against UNH by going 10 of 14 in the game, while the Retrievers shot a mediocre 9-18 foul shots.
Fleming scored 12 points in the game. He was 6 of 12 from the field, and collected seven rebounds. Impressively, four of Fleming’s rebounds were recorded on offense. He also chipped in on dishes by handing out two assists. Lowndes Jr. added to the offense by scoring nine points off the bench and grabbing five boards in the game.
The Black Bears return to action Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. They face off against University of Massachusetts Lowell at 7 p.m. The UMass Riverhawks are 8-13 this season and most recently lost to the Hartford Hawks. Following the match against UMass Lowell, the Black Bears will play a second home game on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. They will face Binghamton University (10-13), who most recently lost to the UNH Wildcats.