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Eke shines in debut, men’s basketball routs USM

The University of Maine men’s basketball team defeated the DIII Husson Eagles by a score of 93-79 in their final exhibition game on Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Maine was shorthanded in this contest, missing a few starters and veteran leaders, but this allowed the opportunity for the younger players to play a lot of minutes and obtain valuable in-game experience.

The Black Bears line up rotation consisted of all freshman and sophomores for the entire game, aside from third-year guard Troy Reid-Knight and fourth-year center Till Gloger.

“I hope it’s a good learning experience for our young guys, that’s why we want to play good, competitive teams. Husson is going to come out and attack us and try to beat us. They win a lot of games every year,” UMaine Head Coach Bob Walsh said.

Maine didn’t exactly come out of the gates as they hoped to. They got off to a relatively slow start and couldn’t extend the lead to double digits throughout the first half. It was a tightly contested contest with a score of 43-38 heading into halftime.

The Black Bears came out steaming hot in the second half, connecting on two three-pointers in the first minute pushing their lead from five to 11 in the blink of an eye. Once Maine got a comfortable lead their offensive rhythm started to flow nicely. The ball started spreading around the floor beautifully and the defense tightened up, allowing Maine to run and gun and take advantage of fast break opportunities. The Eagles looked exhausted but had no quit in them, coming at the Black Bears physically all game, applying great half court pressure and forcing multiple turnovers and errors.

Despite the win, Walsh was disappointed with the way his team performed on Saturday, as he was expecting more collectively from his Black Bear squad.

“This was pretty out of character today for this group from what I’ve seen so far. The way we practice, the way we go after each other and compete against one another everyday; now we’re in a game and we sort of had a casual approach,” Walsh said.

Third-year guard Troy Reid-Knight played a great game for the Black Bears contributing 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and two assists. He was displeased in the winning effort as well.

“Based off today we wouldn’t be ready for any game. Monday is a new day and we will bring that energy that we have been all preseason,” Reid-Knight said.

Maine may have felt like they underachieved in their last preseason tune up, however there were some positive signs for the Black Bears. First-year forward Issac Vann looked unbelievable, going for 22 points and 16 rebounds. He also recorded two blocks and two steals, showing he is reliable on both ends of the floor. Gloger went off for Maine with 22 points and nine rebounds, as well as showing off his range cashing in both three point shots he attempted.

Once the Black Bears gets their entire roster back to full strength, they are going to be loaded with size, talent and youth. Maine travels to Connecticut to tip-off regular season action on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at University of Connecticut to play the 2014 National Champion Huskies.

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