The University of Maine Black Bears continued to struggle this week, losing to Quinnipiac, Princeton and Saint Peter’s University. Although Maine didn’t grab a single win this week, they had a few close games against Quinnipiac and Saint Peter’s University.
The first game saw the Black Bears head back out on the road for their sixth consecutive away game. The team traveled to Connecticut on Sunday, Nov. 25. There the Black Bears faced off against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, coming out strong in the first half, leading by seven heading into halftime.
Maine’s drastically improved shooting accuracy paved the way for the team. Draining 43 percent of their shots from beyond the arc as a unit, Maine comfortably controlled the offensive aspect of the game. Quinnipiac didn’t fare nearly as well, scoring only 25 percent of the shots that they put up.
Opening up the second half with the score at 26-19, Maine’s lead was diminished in the first four minutes, as the Bobcats scored nine unanswered points. Just 10 minutes into the half, Quinnipiac had driven up the score and found themselves up 41-34. The Bobcats hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a row, and their improved accuracy tore apart Maine’s defense.
The game ended with a score of 50-58. Unable to stop the Bobcats’ second half charge, Maine walked off the court, unable to capture their first victory of the season. The leading scorers for the game were third-year Isaiah White with 19 and third-year Vincent Eze with 10. Second-year Vilgot Larsson led the team in rebounds with nine, followed by third-year Andrew Fleming contributing seven boards.
Following a quick break, Maine hosted the Princeton Tigers on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Although the Black Bears had the home court advantage, they were unable to recapture their marvelous shooting from the first half against the Bobcats, allowing the Tigers to run up the score in the eventual loss.
White led the Black Bears scoring 15 points in the first half, including all three of Maine’s successful shots from beyond the arc. Princeton knocked down eight of their 14 3-pointers to challenge Maine and bring the Tigers’ lead to 36-25 by half time.
The Black Bears came out of the locker room with renewed energy and spirit, locking down their defense and improving their offensive efforts. Princeton’s fourth-year guard Devin Cannady still cut through the Black Bears’ defense, scoring a total of 20 points in the second half, and 28 points overall. Maine’s Fleming attempted to match Cannady, putting up 15 points himself in the half. This effort was still not enough to outscore the opponents. In the end, the Black Bears lost 59-73. White and Fleming both ended the game with 19 points.
The last game of the week was on Saturday, Dec. 1. The team travelled to New Jersey to compete in their closest matchup of the season against the Saint Peter’s University Peacocks. Each team fought hard, forcing the game into overtime.
Both teams came onto the court strong, scoring several quick baskets. Maine’s Fleming and fourth-year forward Ilija Stojiljkovic led the offensive charge, scoring eight points and 10 points respectively. The Peacocks were able to put themselves up by seven during the first half, yet a strong offensive surge from the Black Bears diminished the lead swiftly.
The second half was more of a defensive battle, with both teams striving to pull ahead. Going shot-for-shot as the clock ticked down, neither team was able to gain a sizeable lead. At 51-51 as time expired, Maine went into their second overtime of the season.
The Peacocks found their rhythm in overtime, outscoring Maine 12-8 for the win. Much like in their game against University of North Texas, the Black Bears were unable to maintain energy going into the extra five minutes of action.
Maine’s next contest will be at home on Tuesday, Dec. 4 against Fordham University. The Black Bears will then travel to New Hampshire on Saturday, Dec. 8 to face off against Dartmouth College. Despite Maine’s poor record the team has yet to play a team within its conference, giving hope to an otherwise weak season.