The University of Maine men’s basketball team (5-19) hosted the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks (9-13) on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The Black Bears fell to the River Hawks 88-64. The River Hawks had the overall edge over the Black Bears, with a 7-3 advantage in the all-time series. Last season, both teams split the series. The Black Bears and River Hawks are tied for eighth in the America East Standings, both with a record of 2-6.
Starting for the Black Bears were second-year Andrew Fleming, third-year Iliya Stojiljkovic, first-year Celio Araujo, redshirt second-year Isaiah White and fourth-year Aaron Calixte.
In the first half, Fleming got the first basket of the game off of a jump shot. The River Hawks quickly answered back when redshirt fourth-year Jahad Thomas nailed a jumper. Fleming used his size and strength to make a nice lay-up to tie the score at 4.
Fleming then went to the line off of a River Hawks foul, making both free throws to put the Black Bears ahead by two. Redshirt third-year Josh Gantz would off of a rebound before hitting a 3-pointer to make the score 11-6.
For the second time in the half, Fleming was sent to the line and again, made both free throws to cut the deficit to three. The River Hawks quickly responded when second-year Rinardo Perry hit his first 3-pointer of the game to increase the lead to six.
Third-year Vernon Lowndes, Jr. hit a jumper but the River Hawks quickly responded with a 3-pointer from Jones. The River Hawks then made a nice pass in the key to first-year Obadiah Noel who finished it off no problem to make the score 28-16.
Fourth-year Matt Harris hit one from beyond the arc, and followed that with a free throw to increase their lead. White was then sent to the line and hit both of his free throws.
White struck again after he made a nice jumper for his fifth point of the half, and Fleming finished off a nice passing play to make the score 32-23. Harris then hit a three for the River Hawks, but Calixte immediately answered with one of his own.
With 2:18 remaining in the half, Jones hit a 3-pointer to increase their lead to 12. At the half, the River Hawks led 49-35. Fleming led Maine in points with 10, followed by Calixte and White with nine apiece. The River Hawks led in 3-pointers, making six out of 12 taken to Maine’s one out of 10.
In the second half, Fleming opened up the scoring with a lay-up to get the Black Bears rolling. UMass quickly answered with a lay-up from Gantz. Harris hit another 3-pointer to put them up by 18.
The River Hawks started to roll when Perry hit a nice lay-up to increase their lead to 23. Calixte then went to the line after a UMass foul and hit both. Gantz hit another 3-pointer to make the score 70-45, but Maine quickly answered with a rebound by Fleming.
Fleming then made a nice pass to second-year Danny Evans for an easy basket, bringing the score to 76-49. Evans made his first 3-pointer of the night off of a pass from Calixte.
Thomas made some quick moves and drove to the basket for his 19th point of the night. Calixte then scored his 18th point of the night off of a nice layup to make the score 80-54 with 6:16 remaining in the game.
Calixte then scored his 20th point of the night off of an easy lay-up to cut the deficit 22 with 3:48 left in the game. A nice feed from Evans to first-year Miks Antoms resulted in two free throws, with Antoms converting on one.
Calixte led the Black Bears in points with 20, followed by Fleming with 12 and White with 9.
“When we have five guys in double digits, we barely lose. The numbers show that when we’re at our best is when everyone contributes. Defensively, we weren’t as mismatched, we were the same size. We were allowed to guard the perimeter tonight,” UMass Head Coach Pat Duquette said.
Men’s basketball downs Binghamton University in overtime thriller
The University of Maine men’s basketball team hosted the University of Binghamton Bearcats (10-15) on Saturday, Feb. 3 for the America East Spread Respect Game. This slogan was created to help further the awareness of equality, respect and safety for every athlete. The Black Bears defeated the Bearcats in a nail-biter 81-79.
The Black Bears lead the series against the Bearcats 18-17, winning two times in a row. They last faced off on Jan. 6, when Maine came back from being down by nine points to come back and win 76-73.
Maine ran their starting lineup of Fleming, Stojiljkovic, Araujo, White and Calixte back out. This same lineup scored 41 of the team’s 64 points in their previous game.
“Our guys were tough and composed and that’s just what you need to win tight games. We never seem to make it easy on ourselves but the toughness and the composure that we showed down the stretch was really crucial. Our mentality was way better today than on Wednesday, our approach was awful. We didn’t seem to have a lot of emotional energy,” UMaine Head Coach Bob Walsh said.
In the first half, redshirt first-year Tyler Stewart scored the first basket of the afternoon off of a baseline jumper. Then, third-year Thomas Bruce’s layup was good to make it 4-0 Bearcats early in the half.
White then hit his first 3-pointer of the day to pull Maine within one. Stewart used the space he was given to hit a perfect 3-pointer, but Calixte responded by hitting a three of his own and pulling Maine to within one again.
Third-year Timmy Rose scored his first basket of the game off of a layup to increase Binghamton’s lead to five with 8:35 to go in the half. Evans then stripped the ball from the Bearcats and made a nice feed to third-year Dusan Majstorovic.
White drained one from beyond the arc, followed by a jumper by Fleming to tie the game up at 13. White then stole the ball and ran down the court for a nice dunk finish to give Maine the lead. However, Bruce evened the score up again after a rebound finish.
Fleming then used his strength to convert in the key, giving the Black Bears a 17-15 lead. After Bruce tied the game with a dunk, third-year Dennis Ashley hit his first 3-pointer of the afternoon to put Maine back up by three.
Thomas then went two for two at the free-throw line. White put the Black Bears back up when he converted on a layup for his 10th point of the game. Bruce then slammed home an easy dunk to make it a one point game with 4:11 remaining.
Third-year Everson Davis hit his first 3-pointer of the game to put the Bearcats up by four. White made it a one point game when he converted on a three of his own. Fleming then found Evans cutting in the key for a nice basket to give Maine the one point lead.
White then hit a 3-point jumper, however, third-year J.C. Show scored his first basket of the game to make it 30-28. At the half, White led Maine in points with 16, followed by Fleming with 4.
In the second half, White made a nice steal and fed the ball to a wide open Stojiljkovic for an easy basket. Fleming then hit a nice jumper for his point of the game. Show cut the deficit to two when he hit a 3-pointer.
Fleming responded with a layup off of a feed from Stojiljkovic. Fleming gave Maine their biggest lead of the game when he hit a jumper and then two-free throws. Show responded with some magic of his own when he hit another 3-pointer.
Calixte increased the lead again when he excused on a layup. Show found Bruce for an easy layup but Maine responded when Fleming scored a layup to make the score 43-37. Majstorovic hit a jumper for his fourth point of the game.
Ashley gave Maine a 10 point lead when he converted on two free-throws. Binghamton cut the lead to seven when Fard Muhammad hit his first-three of the game. White then drove the net for a layup, 51-44. Muhammed hit another 3-pointer with 8:48 remaining.
The 3-pointers went back and forth, with Maine leading by four points with 7:10 remaining in the game. Fourth-year Ilker Er drained his first 3-pointer of the game to give Maine a 5 point lead.
With 52.1 seconds left, the Bearcats tied it up at 67. Calixte converted on both free throws to give Maine the two-point lead. After regulation, the game needed overtime.
Calixte dribbled his way through the key to put Maine up by four with 1:42 left in extra time. Muhammed hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three with 22.5 left. The Black Bears hung onto the win.
“We played well as a team. Today was a testament to our core values as a team- playing tough and playing together for the entire game,” White, who was the player of the game with 23 points, said.
The Black Bears return to the court Thursday, Feb. 8 when they travel to Durham, New Hampshire to take on the Wildcats from the University of New Hampshire. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Bearcats take the court Thursday, Feb. 8, when they host the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.