This week the University of Maine men’s basketball team travelled to compete against the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks. The Black Bears’ sizeable victory, 78-59, included a record tying performance by third-year forward Andrew Fleming. This brought their record to 2-5 against teams in the American East and it was their fourth win of the season.
In the first half, the scores went back and forth. As time went on, Maine picked up speed and inched into the lead slowly but surely. With a solid 48.5 percent from the field, Maine took a lead of 10 points by half, largely due to Fleming.
Fleming’s performance for the night was something for the record books. Not only did the third-year collect his 500th rebound for UMaine, but he shot an outstanding 18-20 from the field. Fleming scored 38 points in the game, making him the second highest scorer in a single game in Black Bear history. The only person to score more points was guard Errick Greene, who scored 45 points in 2001. Fleming’s shooting tied the record for most field goals in a game for teams in the American East, as well as made him the first person in 20 years to shoot 90 percent on 20 shot attempts. This accuracy as well as a solid three dunks in the first half got the Black Bears excited as both teams went to the locker room for half time.
In the second half, Maine started out a little sluggish. However, it didn’t take long for the team to find its groove and launch ahead of the River Hawks. Fleming continued to put on a show as the team fed the big man. Maine worked to score threes, but neither team could seem to find the net from beyond the arc. Maine adjusted to score 46 points from within the paint, while holding the River Hawks to 20 points inside the arc.
Third-year guard Isaiah White and first-year guard Terion Moss each contributed the offensive push by Fleming, combining their efforts to put up 19 points. With Maine working together like a well-oiled machine, they amassed a game high lead of 26. Once at that 26 point lead, they stepped off the gas on offense and locked down their defense. A 19 point margin of victory at the final buzzer is a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing Black Bears’ season. If Fleming can replicate his performance, and the Black Bears’ strong duo of guards can continue to contribute, the Black Bears’ season could soar upward from this impressive victory.
The Black Bears not only scored more, but led in off the bench points, rebounds and steals as well. Maine’s strong defensive effort forced 20 turnovers, all while impressively handling the ball, with only nine turnovers. This was a strong game for the Black Bears that their opponents didn’t see coming.
Their next game is on Wednesday, Feb. 2 when the Black Bears will hit the road for a rematch against the University of Vermont. After a harsh 73-49 defeat, the Black Bears’ newfound momentum, paired with looking for revenge against a strong opponent, should make for an exciting contest.