The University of Maine men’s basketball team continued their stay on the road this week, competing in the Wolfpack Classic, a series of games on the road for Maine against North Carolina State University, the University of North Texas, and Quinnipiac University. The team fought to take home their first win this season but came up empty handed. With a close game against the University of North Texas, the Black Bears generated an amazing comeback and forced the game into overtime.
Maine first travelled to Raleigh, North Carolina Saturday, Nov. 17. The team faced off against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, resulting in a tough loss by a final score of 63-82.
The Black Bears struggled to score in the first minutes of the game, resulting in a 15-point run by their opponent. The first player to score was Maine’s third-year forward Andrew Fleming. Fleming not only broke the scoring dry spell but was the leading scorer for the team on the day absolutely dominating in the paint in the second half. The first half had no stand-out scorer other than first-year guard Terion Moss who scored a solid 10 points.
At the end of the first half, NC State led 48-24. With a shooting percentage from the field of 53 percent and the same percentage beyond the arc, the Wolfpack was going into the locker room confidently. This was compared to Maine’s 46 percent from the field and 14 percent from beyond the arc. Despite the poor performance in the first half, Maine was able to turn the act around in the second, playing much more aggressively both on offense and defense.
Although the Black Bears were able to outscore their opponents, the team struggled to get within reach of the win. During the second half Fleming scored 15 of his 19 overall points for the game, while only a few other players were able to get their scoring into the double digits. These players included third-year guard Sergio El Darwich amassing 11 points, Moss scoring 13, and third-year guard Isaiah White scoring 10.
The renewed effort from the Black Bears was all for naught, as the closest they were able to close the gap to was a 19 point deficit during the second half. The game ended with Maine unable to close the deficit by any more than 19 points during the half. This effort in the second half was a showing of the team’s inability to give up, however, something that would soon be seen in Tuesday’s game against the University of North Texas Mean Green.
The University of North Texas went into Tuesday’s game confidently. With a record of 6-0 the team had more than the home field advantage against the 0-6 Black Bears. This confidence only increased as the Mean Green outscored the Black Bears 35-23 in the first half.
The game started with both teams going back and forth, with Maine staying in the action thanks to second-year forward Vilgot Larsson who scored the Black Bears’ first 8 points. Larsson didn’t stop there, scoring seven more points over the course of the game. As the half went on, the Mean Green slowly increased their lead, while Maine struggled to score. The Black Bears kept testing the three ball despite their lack of success, going just 1-12. The Black Bears were able to slow their opponents scoring, keeping them close to a 12-point lead for the last 13 minutes of the half.
The second half saw a new Black Bear team, with Maine slowly wearing down their opponents. As the game clock showed five minutes left to play in the game, Maine’s offense hit a surge in fluidity, with Darwich and White scoring to get the team within two points with just seconds remaining. With the chance of a win within reach, White drove the ball to the basket. Going coast to coast and weaving between opponents, White settled for a nice shot off the glass that dropped in with less than a second remaining. The Black Bears had come back, forcing the game into overtime.
Maine scored first, with White sinking both free throws after being fouled. This brought White’s scoring total to 22 points for the game. North Texas came back with two free throws of their own just 30 seconds later. These free throws tied the game up 62-62.
Unfortunately for Maine, the team didn’t score again over the next four minutes, while the Mean Green continued to score raising the lead to 11 points to end the game. Despite the final score, the Black Bear’s comeback against a team that was undefeated on their own court shows potential.
The next game will be their first home game of the regular season against Princeton University (2-2) at the Cross Center Insurance Arena on Wednesday, Nov 28 at 7 p.m. Maine hopes to overcome this losing spell and continue the season with the same determination that was seen in second half of their game against North Texas.