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Black Bears demolished by Texas Tech

The Black Bears (0-4) were back in action on Tuesday, Nov. 14, as they fell to the Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-0) 83-44 in Lubbock, Texas to finish the regional round of the Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament.

Atrocious shooting was the thorn in the Black Bears’ side, as they shot just 24.6 percent from the field, as well as 14.3 percent from three-point range. Third-year forward Ilija Stojiljkovic and second-year forward Andrew Fleming led the way for Maine, scoring eight points apiece.

The Black Bears’ shooting woes started early. Third-year guard Aaron Calixte hit a three-pointer to get them on the board four minutes and 19 seconds into the game. They would not score again until redshirt second-year guard Dennis Ashley made a layup five minutes later. In total, the team shot just 15.4 percent from the floor and 18.2 percent from beyond the arc.

While Maine was ice cold from the floor, the Red Raiders were on fire from the start. Texas Tech opened the game on an 11-0. After Calixte nailed the three-pointer to put Maine on the board, the Red Raiders went on another 12-0 run to build an insurmountable lead in front of a crowd of 6,317. They used a 56.7 percent shooting and 66.7 percent from three to take a 49-13 lead into halftime.

Things turned around for the Black Bears in the second half. The shooting had improved dramatically, with Maine going 10 for 31 from the field, good for 32.3 percent. More to the point, Texas Tech significantly cooled off, shooting 12 of 27, for 44.4 percent. Maine had also outrebounded the Red Raiders 19-15 in the half, keeping the score for the half at 34-31. Unfortunately for Maine, the first half lead was far too insurmountable to make up the difference.

Four different Red Raiders crossed into double figures, with fourth-year guard Keenan Evans leading the way with 12, first-year guards Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith with 11 apiece, and fourth-year guard Niem Stevenson with 10.

Outside of scoring, the Red Raiders showed that this was a classic “Power Five v. Mid-Major” type of game.They outrebounded the Black Bears 38-30, and played much cleaner overall, only turning the ball over 11 times to Maine’s 17. The only edge Maine had came in free throw percentage at 86.7 percent to Texas Tech’s 78.9 percent.

Maine looks for their first win of the season on Saturday, Nov. 18 as they take the University of South Alabama in the Springfield Bracket of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament down at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Boston College in their next stage of the tournament on Saturday, Nov. 18, also at Mohegan Sun. Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Black Bears’ struggles continue against South Alabama

The Black Bears were back in action on Saturday, Nov. 18 as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament, falling to the University of South Alabama Jaguars (2-2) 68-46 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

The first half of the game was a seesaw affair with little scoring. Maine and South Alabama kept trading the lead on little layups and free throws. Maine would last lead the game after a three point dagger by third-year guard Trae Bryant put them up 22-21 with 6:25 to go in the first half. The Jaguars would outscore the Black Bears 15-4 going into the half, taking a 36-26 lead to the locker room with them.

South Alabama shot well enough to build a lead, especially at the end of the half. Maine could not hit the broadside of a barn, shooting just 33 percent from the field on 9 of 27, including going 2 of 12 from three point range, good for an abysmal 16.7 percent. They did hold their own when it came to rebounding and ball possession, only being outrebounded 20-16 while turning the ball over just two more times at 9-7.

The second half was more of the same for Maine when it came to shooting: nothing fell. They kept chipping away at the deficit, but every time they put points on the board, South Alabama would answer right back, making it impossible to close the gap. The Jaguars lead would reach its peak after third-year guard Rodrick Sikes nailed a three pointer to put the team up 25 with a minute and a half left.

As bad as Maine’s shooting was in the first half, it was even worse in the second. The Black Bears finished the second half at  eight for 25, including one of seven from three and three of six from the free throw line. They were also rebounded 20-17 for the half. They did do a better job with ball managment, turning it over just six times in the 20 minute period.

Overall, Maine finished the game shooting just 32.7 percent from the field, at 17 of 52, including just three of 19 from three point range and nine of 15 from the free throw line. They were outrebounded 40-33 on the afternoon as well.

Calixte led the Black Bears with 13 points on the game. He and Bryant were the only two Maine players to score in double figures. Second-year guard Danny Evans led the way in rebounds, crashing the boards nine times.

For the Jaguars, four players scored in double figures, with redshirt second-year forward Josh Ajayi leading the charge with 18. He had six rebounds to go with those 18 points, second to redshirt sophomore Thrae Mitchell’s seven.

The Black Bears will look for that elusive first win on Sunday, Nov. 19 as they take on the Sacred Heart University Pioneers at Mohegan Sun. Tip off is set for 12:30 p.m. South Alabama will also be back in action on Sunday, Nov. 19 as they take on St. Peter’s University, also at Mohegan Sun. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.   

Black Bears fall for fourth game in a row

UMaine was back on the court Sunday afternoon, losing a heartbreaker to Sacred Heart University (1-3) 69-68 in overtime in the final game of the Tip-off Tournament from Mohegan Sun.

To call this game a thriller is a bit of an understatement. The lead changed hands a total of 26 times on the game. On top of that, there were 10 separate ties, including at 35 to go into halftime and at 59 to end regulation. Neither team led by more than six at any point throughout the course of the game.

The Black Bears were able to find their hand from the field in the first half, making 11 of 26 shots from the field. The three still proved to be a challenge, with three of 11 triples falling. Fourth-year guard Ilker Er led the charge for Maine in the first half, scoring 13 points on four of eight shooting, including two of four from beyond the arc and three of four from the charity stripe.

The final five and a half minutes defined the game. With the score tied 50-50 with 5:24 left, the Black Bears went on a mini-run to give themselves their largest lead of the day. Maine put up five points on three Fleming free throws and a layup by Er. Sacred Heart would strike back, then Maine would regrow the lead. Missed free throws late gave the Pioneers the opportunity to force overtime, and they did exactly that.

As it had been in the previous three games, one bad shooting half doomed the Black Bears. This time, their struggles came in the second half, going just nine of 27 on the half, without making a single three pointer and committing a travesty at the foul line by shooting 50 percent.

Er and Stojiljkovic would both record their first collegiate double-doubles, with Er tallying 20 points and snagging 10 rebounds, and Stojiljkovic scoring 10 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Calixte and Fleming would join them in double figures with 18 and 11 respectively.

Sacred Heart also had four players reach double figures, with fourth-year forward Joseph Lopez finishing with 11, and redshirt fourth-year forward Mario Matasovic, second-year guard Zach Radz and first-year guard Alex Watson each had 10. First-year forward E.J. Anisoke shined brightly on the rebounding end, pulling down 17.

Maine will be back in action on Wednesday, Nov. 22 against Boston University from the Cross Insurance Center. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. Sacred Heart will take on Mitchell College on Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. from the William H. Pitt Center.

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