As we approach the end of the America East basketball season, the University of Maine men’s basketball team sits at an overall record of 7-19, with a conference record of 3-10. This past weekend, on Saturday, Feb. 22, the Black Bears traveled down to New York to take on the Stony Brook Seawolves, ultimately losing the contest 54-46. After the Saturday game, Maine only has three regular-season games left to play.
Maine, heading into the contest, was coming off a road loss to Albany on Sunday, Feb. 16, and currently sits at seventh in the conference standings. However, Binghamton trails Maine by one game after winning their last game against the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Although Maine holds the tiebreaker over UMBC, they can’t afford to lose any more games if they hope to make it far in the first-round tournament game at the University of Vermont.
Maine entered the game offensively averaging 61.3 points per game, defensively allowing 69.4 points per game and netting a negative margin of -8.1, which is good for last in the conference. Maine is seventh in the conference in shot percentage allowed, giving up 40% of field goals overall, and 43.5% from the three, which sits ranks as last in the conference.
Maine is solid within offensive rebounds, ranking fourth, while being last in the conference in rebounding defense. If the Black Bears have any hope of making a strong playoff push, they have to work on cleaning up their turnovers, where they currently average 15.2 per game.
The game started off well, with Maine leading 9-2 midway through the first half. The half saw both teams shooting around 30%. Maine led 22-20 until they surrendered three turnovers, allowing Stony Brook to end on a 6-0 run. Fourth-year guard Sergio El Darwich lead Maine with seven points, while Seawolves’ third-year forward Mouhamadou Gueye led his squad with 12 points for the half.
Maine came out with fresh energy, leading Stony Brook by eight for the first six minutes of the second half. Both teams struggled to shoot from the perimeter, with Maine going 26.7% from beyond the arc, while Stony Brook put up 14.3%. However, Stony Brook stayed in the game due to their press defense and timely baskets, though a fast break dunk by third-year forward Andrew Flemming and follow up three-pointer by El Darwich gave Maine a 37-30 lead that would be the last Maine lead of the game, as the Seawolves fought back hard and overpowered the Black Bears, winning 54-46.
El Darwich led all scorers with 18 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Third-year forward Nedelijko Prijovic and first-year forward Stephane Ingo carried the team in rebounds, snagging 12 boards each, while also combining for 17 points. Maine went 5-6 from the charity stripe, while StonyBrook went 16-20. Seawolves third-year guard Makale Foreman had 16 points for Stony Brook, leading the team. This win marked Stony Brook’s 20th straight win against the Black Bears.
Maine’s loss keeps them one game ahead of Binghamton for the America East Playoffs, as Binghamton lost to Hartford 75-74. Maine returns home to face New Hampshire on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Cross Insurance Center. The tip-off is set for 7 p.m.