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Black Bears basketball looking to bounce back after a rough week

This was an extremely tough week for the University of Maine men’s and women’s basketball programs. The men’s team lost their only game of the week, while the women’s team lost both of their contests. The women’s team played Boston University on Sunday, Nov. 17, losing 49-62 and North Carolina State University on Wednesday, Nov. 19, losing 34-62. The men’s team traveled all the way to Seattle, Washington to play the University of Washington, and fell by a score of 53-72.The women’s first game against Boston University looked as if it was going to be a good one. The Terriers had just come off a win against Black Bears’ rivals the University of New Hampshire. This meant that Boston could put up a fight, which became evident as the game progressed. The first quarter was pretty close with Boston scoring just three more points than Maine. This quarter saw one lone scorer for the Black Bears in third-year guard Dor Saar. Saar scored one layup, and three baskets from downtown, putting her at 11 points for the quarter. The next quarter was even slower on the offensive side of things. Saar buried another 3-point attempt, but Maine’s offense went stagnant after that, as only first-year guard Anna Kahelin scored the remainder of Maine’s points for the quarter which included another 3-pointer and an ensuing free throw from being fouled on her shot from downtown.After halftime, Boston opened up the floodgates on the Black Bears, scoring with ease until they increased their lead to 15 points by the end of the third. With only one quarter of play left, Maine found their offensive rhythm, outscoring Boston University, but only by two points. The Black Bears fell short in the comeback bid, despite strong performances by Saar and fourth-year guard Blanca Millan, who finished with 21 and 10 points respectively. Maine’s key stat that ended their game was only managing 20 boards to Boston University’s 35. If Maine can’t win the board battle in future games, they may continue to find themselves behind in contests.The next game the women’s team played was the matchup against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in Raleigh. This game promised to be extremely tough, with the Wolfpack being a perennial contender in the women’s college basketball playoffs, in addition to being a rematch against the squad that knocked Maine out of the NCAA playoffs last season. The first quarter saw the Wolfpack capitalize on a weak Maine offense, collecting 23 rebounds to Maine’s 13, in addition to scoring 31 points to Maine’s 10. The Black Bears had an abysmal four of 25 on shots from the floor while making two of 13 shots from beyond the arc. Impressive defensive play on behalf of the Wolfpack and multiple miscues on offense sank the Black Bears before the contest had even started. The Black Bears played a respectable second half despite the deficit, scoring 24 points off of strong effort by Saar and Millan, who contributed 13 combined points. North Carolina State combined for 31 points, with all but two of their players contributing to the scoring. The Black Bears continued to lose the battle on the boards, pulling down 18 rebounds to the Wolfpack’s 27.  The Black Bears finished the game shooting 24.6% from the floor, and 20% from beyond the arc, compared to North Carolina State’s 37.9% and 27.8% respectively. Maine slides to 1-3, on a three-game losing streak. Their next contest will be in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida over the holiday break, with their lone confirmed opponent being Arizona State University out of their three scheduled contests.The men’s team sits in a similar position to the women’s team, as they fell to 1-3 on the season following their loss to the University of Washington Huskies. The Huskies, playing outside of the PAC-12, ran rampant on the Black Bears in the first half of the game. Maine jumped out to an early lead, aided by solid rebounding from fourth-year forward Andrew Fleming, but Washington stayed within two points throughout the first 10 minutes of action. The depth of Washington’s bench and capability to overwhelm the Black Bears’ bench told the tale for the night, as following substitutions the Huskies began to run up the score. The Black Bears were able to stay within reach for a majority of the first half but struggled to keep it together as the opponent went on a run. In the last eight minutes, the Black Bears went from being down four to being down 18 points.

The one positive take away from this game is Maine’s ability to rally when they’re down, as the Black Bears came out in the second half and went bucket for bucket with the Huskies. Washington’s lead proved insurmountable in the end, as the Black Bears fell by a final score of 72-53. This difference in the second half was due to Maine’s solid shooting, as they made 50% from both the field and from beyond the arc.

The men’s team has their next contest on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at the University of Virginia, with tip-off at 4:00 p.m. If the Black Bears can channel their second-half performance against Washington into an entire game against Virginia, they may emerge victorious.

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