In conference play, the University of Maine Black Bears won a close contest against the University of New York at Albany Great Danes 74-72 on Saturday afternoon in The Pit, completing the season sweep. With the victory, UMaine secures a spot in the America East tournament. In Head Coach Chris Markwood’s first year as the head coach, he has helped the Black Bears reach the tournament for the first time since the 2019 through 2020 season. Looking towards the America East tournament, UMaine will most likely have to beat the University of Vermont, who has won the tournament three times in the last five seasons.
UMaine had a record of 10-15 and a conference record of 4-8 coming into Saturday’s game, and were looking for a much-needed win after losing to UVM and the New Jersey Institute of Technology back-to-back. UAlbany was 7-21 and were last in the conference with a record of 2-11. They were looking to end the season strong following a victory against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The two teams previously played on Jan. 28, where UMaine won 72-68.
Shots were falling early and efficiently, as the Black Bears shot 4-9 from three. UAlbany gained a 23-20 lead, but it did not last long. UMaine went on to score 13 unanswered points and outscored UAlbany 16-3 for the rest of the half. Second-year guard Kellen Tynes led the Black Bears with 11 points along with fourth-year guard Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish with 10 points. First-year forward Jonathan Beagle was dominant inside for UAlbany, scoring 11 of their 26 first-half points.
UMaine’s defense was stifling, forcing multiple-shot clock violations and causing the Great Danes to turn the ball over nine times, leading to transition opportunities and free throws. UMaine was also able to shoot 10-10 from the charity stripe. UAlbany did not shoot any free throws in the first half. The Black Bears led 36-26 going into halftime.
UMaine’s biggest lead of the game came with just over 13 minutes left in the half after second-year forward Kristains Feierbergs knocked down a three-pointer, putting the Black Bears up 51-34. Feierbergs made his return in this game, after being out with an ankle injury that occurred on Jan. 28, the last time the Black Bears played UAlbany. He finished the game with five points and six rebounds off the bench.
After only scoring four points in the first, fourth-year guard Gedi Juozapaitis scored 13 points in the second half, including a stretch where he scored seven straight of Maine’s points late in the second half.
Although they were down for most of the game, the Great Danes had not quit and the game stayed competitive until the buzzer sounded. UAlbany’s three–point shooting led by fourth-year guard Da’kquan Davis drove a late comeback. As a team, they shot 7-14 from behind the three-point line in the second half. Davis alone shot 6-10 from three on the game. UAlbany went on an 11-4 run, including multiple threes by fourth-year Trey Hutcheson.
Tynes blocked a three-point attempt by Davis with under a minute left in the game and went to the free–throw line. He would go on to make both free throws. Davis then answered with a deep three cutting the lead to four. Juozapaitis drove baseline and threw down a vicious slam. UAlbany quickly answered when Davis drove through the lane and made a contested layup.
After Wright-Mcleish split a pair of free throws, Davis made another 3-pointer with under 30 seconds left to make the score 71-69. First-guard Jaden Clayton was then fouled and made one free throw, giving the Black Bears a three-point lead. Tynes stole the ball off a UAlbany inbound pass with two seconds left and made both free throws to seal the game.
UMaine did not shoot the ball well in the second half, shooting 1-8 from the three-point line. They did win the turnover battle, forcing 15 while only committing 12. They also won the rebound battle. Tynes had a team-high 23 points, along with 6 rebounds. The UMaine guard also notched seven steals, which tied his season high. Tynes is currently leading the NCAA in total steals and steals per game. Juozapaitis finished the game with 17, and Wright-Mcleish also scored double digits with 11. For UAlbany, Davis led all scorers with 26 points, 21 of which came in the second half. Beagle finished the game with a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Fourth-year forward Gerald Drumgoole Jr. struggled from the field but also finished with 14 points.
The Black Bears will look to continue their winning ways as they travel to play New Hampshire on Wednesday.