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Men’s basketball hits rough patch, loses three straight games

The University of Maine men’s basketball team struggled on the road this week, playing in three games and losing all of them. The team traveled to Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, Nov. 6 to face off against the University of Denver. They were able to keep up with the Pioneers during the first half tying 27-27. Denver came back with a strong second half outscoring UMaine a for a final score of 50-63.  

Both teams went back and forth throughout the first half with the highest lead being seven points by the Pioneers. The teams ended the half with near equal rebounds, turnovers and assists.

The half was led in scoring by second-year guard Mykhailo Yagodin with seven points and third-year guard Isaiah White with six points. The leading scorers for the Pioneers were first-year guard Jase Townsend with eight points and fourth-year forward Ronnie Harrell Jr. with seven points. Harrell Jr. also happened to be the leading rebounders for Denver in the first half, snagging six boards. The Black Bears spread out their rebounds quite well with first-year guard Terion Moss and third-year forward Andrew Flemming having four rebounds each.

The second quarter was much more difficult for the Black Bears, as they were only able to shoot 9-28 from the field and 3-14 from beyond the arc. The team started out slow, allowing the Pioneers to take a six point lead. But the Black Bears were able to come back and challenge their opponents, and even temporarily held a one point lead. The Pioneers then went on a quick 12-point run, diminishing the Black Bears lead. Although Maine fought hard, they couldn’t overcome this massive run. Both teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the quarter.

The deciding statistic from the game came from Denver’s 29 bench points. With a deep bench the Pioneers were able to stay rested and attack with fresh legs when Maine was tired.

The Black Bears barely had enough time to let the results of the game sink in before they were off to play in their next game. The team flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, to play in a game against the University of Utah on Thursday, Nov. 8. The team came out motivated and ready to prove themselves after a tough loss. This wouldn’t be without great challenge however, as the Utah Utes were well rested heading into their season opener against Maine.

The Black Bears started the game off poorly, allowing the opponents to get a 10-point lead in the first four minutes. This meant that there was no room for error for the Black Bears. Thanks to White and his aggressive play, the team didn’t allow another huge run. White scored 14 for the half, driving to the rim for dunks and popping 3-pointers.

Although the Black Bears’ play improved for the next 16 minutes, it wasn’t enough to stop Utah’s commanding offense. The Utes were able to increase their lead slowly from 10 to 17 points by the end of half. This required a drastic change for the Black Bears to even have a chance. The score at half was 28-45. The team struggled the first half to collect rebounds over their opponents which added to the deficit.

Going into the second half Maine worked to bring the score back thanks to an already warmed up White and a heating up third-year center Vincent Eze, the Black Bears were able to reduce the lead to nine points in the first six minutes. This was as far as the team was able to go however, as Utah started to go basket for basket with the Black Bears for the rest of the game. Eze’s 12 points and White’s 10 weren’t enough to overcome such a large lead made in the first half.

Although Maine shot much better and came out with more energy, out-scoring in the half 33-30, it just wasn’t enough. Utah walked away with the win, as Maine took another loss. With another game on Saturday, Nov. 10,  the Black Bears flew right to San Francisco. The Black Bears faced off against the University of San Francisco, a team that was 1-0 coming off a win against University of California, Davis that Tuesday. The Black Bears struggled in this game the most as the rested Dons tore through their defense scoring 93 to Maine’s 50. The Dons also managed to have six players into the double digits for points.

It was a tough start for UMaine as they were unable to score in the first three minutes as San Francisco became an unstoppable force. The opponents took a 10-point lead in this time. In the next 5 minutes Maine started to make a presence. Flemming, White and Junior Sergio El Darwich each put in two baskets to keep the Dons under control and reduce the lead to 6-points.

Just as Maine was starting to get into a rhythm, their opponents went on another run. The Dons led the Black Bears by 19 points, as Maine only scored 2 points to the Dons’ 15. For the rest of the half the Black Bears struggled to get the ball through the hoop as they fell behind to a 24 point deficit. The team wasn’t able to keep up off the boards as Maine rebounded a measly 11 rebounds to San Fransisco’s 27. Another factor that didn’t help the Black Bears this half was the accuracy from beyond the arc, as they fell flat shooting 0-8.

As the team went back on the court for the second half, another small run was made by the Dons. Flemming was among one of the only players that were able to score against the Dons in the second half with a total of 10 points. He was also one of the few that were able to get boards this half with three of the team’s nine rebounds. With an all but nonexistent defense, the Black Bears’ offensive efforts were essentially hopeless. This resulted in an even larger lead by the Dons, and the eventual win. Although the team improved on their shooting and rebounding, it just wasn’t enough to combat the Dons’ deadly accuracy. Shooting 75 percent from the field and 60 percent from beyond the arc as a team, the Dons couldn’t be stopped.

Maine will play their next game Saturday, Nov. 17,  against North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. With plenty of time to rest and make improvements, there is no doubt that the Black Bears will come out strong for the Wolf Pack Classic.

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