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Men’s basketball struggles late in games against Vermont and UMBC

The University of Maine men’s basketball team let a close game slip away late against the University of Vermont Catamounts on Wednesday night. The Black Bears were tied up with the Catamounts 49-49 with 11:25 remaining in regulation. Unfortunately for Maine, they couldn’t keep up with Vermont’s pressure down the stretch and ended up dropping the decision 85-68.

Maine was far too weak inside the paint as they allowed the Catamounts to have their way down low all night. The Catamounts totaled more offensive rebounds than Maine did defensive rebounds, 15-14. Vermont outrebounded Maine 42-23 on the boards in total, and outscoring Maine 56-20 in the paint. Vermont’s presence down low was ultimately the game changer that guided them to victory.

Offensive production was certainly not the issue for the Black Bears as they shot the ball consistently well from all over the floor. Maine connected on 41 percent of their shots from the field in the contest, hitting 11-of-22 from three-point range and 9-of-11 at the free throw line. Maine’s problem was purely defense, as the Black Bears surrendered 14 Vermont assists while only forcing eight turnovers. They also allowed 23 second chance points due to their poor commitment to rebound the basketball.

The final score was not a fair indication of how the game went overall. Maine was actually in the lead 45-41 with 15:24 left in regulation. Vermont battled back tying the game up at 49-49 with 11:25 to play and it was all Catamounts from that point on. Vermont ran away with the game thanks to a 14-0 run over a three-minute period, extending their lead to 63-49. Maine was unable to cut the deficit back to single digits the rest of the way and lost 85-68.

Second-year guard Aaron Calixte did everything he could in Maine’s losing effort, dropping 15 points and dishing out five assists. First-year forward Devine Eke added to his league-leading field goal percentage, scoring 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds. First-year forward Issac Vann chipped in 12 points respectively.

For the Catamounts, it was fourth-year forward Ethan O’Day leading the way going for 23 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Third-year forward Darren Payen posted a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Black Bears fall to 83-79 to UMBC

The University of Maine men’s basketball team lost 83-79 in a nail biter against the UMBC Retrievers on Saturday afternoon at the Portland Expo.

UMBC’s second-year guard Jairus Lyles was matchup nightmare all game putting on a scoring display against the Black Bears, dropping 37 points on 14-for-19 shooting. Lyles stellar performance was good for the most points scored by an opponent against Maine this season and third all-time for points scored in a game for UMBC. First-year guard Joe Sherburne posted a double-double, going for 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Maine’s Calixte led the way again for the Black Bears for the second straight game with 18 points and six assists. Eke was efficient shooting 6-of-7 from the field while also posing problems on the defensive end for the Retrievers, recording four blocks and four steals. Fourth-year forward Shaun Lawton played well coming off the bench, chipping in seven points, a season-high 11 rebounds and three steals.

The Black Bears were completely outshot against the Retrievers. Maine shot 42 percent on 27-of-64 from the field and a dismal 6-of-23 from three-point land. The Retrievers shot the ball consistently at a high rate throughout the entire contest shooting 60 percent on 33-for-55 from the floor. UMBC also outrebounded Maine 43-25 giving them many more opportunities to possess the basketball and control the pace of play.

It was a tightly contested contest the entire game, with neither team being able to distance themselves until the final few minutes when the Retrievers put the game away. UMBC ran away with the victory in the final three minutes when they took an 8-point lead at 76-68. Maine kept coming back for more, exchanging buckets in the last two minutes but were never able to knot the score up. Lyles was the difference maker for the Retrievers down the stretch, scoring bucket after bucket and the Black Bears could not solve him defensively.

Following the loss, the Black Bears fall to 8-15 overall and 4-6 in America East action. Meanwhile, the Retrievers improve to 6-19 overall and 2-8 in league play. Maine looks to get themselves back on track and into the win column as they seek revenge on the road at New Hampshire to take on the Wildcats. Maine lost 99-91 to New Hampshire last time they faced off on their home court on Jan. 18.


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