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Men’s hoops drops contests to UNH, UML, Albany

The University of Maine men’s basketball dropped their third straight contest 88-75 to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats on Monday night. The loss was Maine’s second of the season to UNH, leaving the Black Bears empty-handed against their archrival for the second consecutive season.

It was a big night for second-year guard Kevin Little who netted his 600th career point as he scored 23 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the field. Fourth-year forward Shaun Lawton drew the start from Head Coach Bob Walsh and answered, shooting 7-of-10 from the field for 19 points, collecting seven rebounds. First-year guard Ryan Bernstein was effective off the bench scoring seven points and hauling in seven rebounds and a steal.

Wildcats second-year forward Tanner Leissner was the game-changer for the second straight game against the Black Bears this season. Leissner went off for a game-high 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting and nine rebounds. Fourth-year guard Ronnel Jordan had a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

UNH started off hot by getting out to a quick double-digit lead. They opened the game up 17-7 through the first seven minutes of the contest. New Hampshire maintained their lead until the 4:57 mark in the first half, when Maine went on a 10-2 run that put them in the lead for the first time. Unfortunately, Maine let the lead slip away quickly as the Wildcats powered a 7-1 run to take the lead into the halftime break. The Black Bears headed into the halftime down by five, 43-38.

With 14:09 left in the contest and Maine down by eight, Lawton converted a huge and-one that propelled a 7-0 run by the Black Bears cutting the lead down to just one. That was as close as Maine would get to UNH, as the Wildcats followed Maine’s 7-0 run with a 7-2 run of their own, putting them back up by six and never looking back.

The Wildcats shot the ball more efficiently than the Black Bears from all over the floor. Maine shot 44 percent from the field on 27-of-61 shooting and went 16-of-21 at the free throw line. UNH shot 52 percent from the floor to go with an impressive 21-of-24 (87.5 percent) at the free throw line. The Wildcats also outrebounded Maine 40-29.

Following the loss Maine drops to 8-16 overall and 4-7 in America East action. UNH improves to 19-9 overall and 7-3 in conference play. Maine is back at home to host University of Massachusetts Lowell on Thursday, Feb. 11 for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

Black Bears fall to UMass Lowell 108-95 in overtime

The UMaine men’s basketball team lost their fourth straight contest on Thursday afternoon to the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell Riverhawks by a score of 108-95 in overtime. It was a crazy, back-and-forth competitive game that featured 20 lead changes, technical fouls and an ejection.

First-year forward Issac Vann was the top performer for Maine, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Second-year guard Aaron Calixte led the Black Bears in scoring with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Fourth-year forward Till Gloger made the most of his minutes coming off the bench for the Black Bears, shooting 7-of-9 from the field for a season-high 18 points in just 20 minutes of action.

UMass Lowell had three players go off for more than 20 points on Thursday afternoon. Second-year guard Matt Harris dominated Maine with a game-high 33 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the floor and 7-for-11 from three-point land. Second-year forward Jahad Thomas posted a double-double, going for 20 points and 10 rebounds. First-year forward Logan Primerano was an electric spark off the bench for the Riverhawks, recording 27 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 23 minutes.

The Black Bears were shooting the ball from the floor at a very similar rate to the Riverhawks. Maine connected on 33-of-72 shooting from the floor (46 percent) throughout regulation and the overtime period. UMass Lowell went 37-of-74 from the field (50 percent). It was the three-point game that really did the Black Bears in and allowed UMass Lowell to separate themselves. The River Hawks were on fire all night from beyond the arc, converting on 16-of-28 (57 percent), opposed to the Black Bears dismal 5-for-20 (25 percent) effort from downtown.

Overtime did not pan out well for Maine from the opening tip, as they couldn’t buy a defensive stop or an offensive basket. The Riverhawks put the game away extremely quickly in the overtime period, opening it up with a 14-0 run which gave them the lead 101-87 with two minutes left. Maine was unable to cut the deficit to single digits the rest of the way and ended up losing by 13 points, 108-95.

Walsh was disappointed with his team’s effort in overtime.

“The first half was a disaster. The second half we competed at a higher level, were getting stops and then overtime was a disaster. Our defense went back to where it was in the first half, we couldn’t get stops and they got great looks. We got deflated,” Walsh said.

Maine came into the contest already shorthanded without their leading scorer, Little, who was out with an ankle injury he suffered in practice this week, and the Black Bears also just lost Bernstein for the season due to mononucleosis (mono).

The Black Bears bench diminished even more with 16:22 left in regulation when first-year forward Ilija Stojiljkovic was thrown out on a flagrant foul two that sent him to the locker room for an early shower. Stojiljkovic was tossed on an extracurricular activity where he bit Riverhawks first-year forward Josh Gantz, after Gantz chest bumped and trash talked one of Stojiljkovic’s teammates. Gantz was issued a flagrant foul one, which allowed him to stay in the game.

Walsh was not aware of what was going on at the time of the incident but believed that Stojiljkovic’s ejection was a worthy one.

“I didn’t see it at all, we had good officials. I trust those guys, they said they went to the monitor and that Ilija [Stojiljkovic] made contact with him after the whistle. They told me it was a clear flagrant two,” Walsh said.

Following the overtime loss Maine sees their record fall to 8-17 overall and 4-8 in the America East. UMass Lowell improves to 10-15 and 6-6 America East play. The Black Bears are back on the road again as they travel to the University of Albany to play the Great Danes on Sunday, Feb. 14 for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

Albany handles Maine 108-64

Vann did everything he could for the Maine Black Bears as they were blown out by the Albany Great Danes 108-64. Vann played a spectacular game individually netting a game high 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and five rebounds. Vann’s teammates failed to provide him any type of help on the offensive side of the ball and they paid the price.

The Great Danes didn’t take their loss to the Black Bears lightly back on Jan. 15, when the two teams last met. Albany made a statement in this game, scoring the most points they have in a contest this season, with 108 points. It was obvious that they were going to be victorious from the first couple of minutes of action.

The Great Danes ran loose from the opening tip, and they came out of the gates scoring at will with a 30-13 run over the first 10 minutes. Albany didn’t look back after getting out to a comfortable lead. Maine was unable to get back within striking distance the rest of the way. With 4:38 remaining in the first half the Black Bears cut the deficit down to nine points at 36-27. Right after coming close to the Great Danes, they lost their chance of a comeback opportunity, surrendering a 15-2 run to close out the half, sending them into the halftime break down 51-29.

Albany went on cruise control in the second half and leisurely glided through the finish line for the blowout win. Nothing changed in the second half as the Great Danes continued to shoot the ball at an efficient rate from all over the floor and shut Maine down on the defensive end. It was a long afternoon for the Black Bears as they were never able to get in a rhythm on either side of the ball.

Maine shot 22-of-63 (35 percent) from the field and connected on just 7-of-26 (27 percent) from three-point territory. Albany went 41-for-71 (58 percent) from the field and 7-for-21 (33 percent) from beyond the arc. Maine’s lack of size played a big part in the loss yet again, as the Great Danes bullied the Black Bears down low, out-rebounding Maine 51-25 and outscoring them 64-26 in the paint. They also dominated the second chance points category by a margin of 21-3.

Following the loss, the Black Bears see their losing streak grow to five games and their record drop to 8-18 overall and 4-9 in America East action. Albany improves to 21-7 overall and 10-3 in conference play. Maine has a week off to prepare before hosting conference leading Stony Brook on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m., as they hope to get back into the win column.  

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