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Black Bears come up short in tough matchup against Vermont

On Wednesday night the seventh-place 10-13 University of Maine men’s basketball team took on the first-place 14-10 University of Vermont Catamounts at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, where they lost 74-65. 

The tip-off was supposed to be at approximately 7:05 p.m., but that did not happen.

 The Harlem Globetrotters played at Cross Insurance the night before, where observers noticed the court was not aligned properly. The baseline on one end of the court was very jagged and uneven. Both teams and the workers of the arena weighed out all possible options. The options discussed included moving the game to The Pit on campus, but they could not move the video equipment in that short of a time. Another option was to postpone the game until the next day, but Vermont had flown to Maine, and the players had to get back for class the next day. 

After much consideration, the plan was to take half of the court off piece by piece and fix it. Vermont’s side of the court was unaffected so they continued to take warm-up shots and even played games of horse to pass the time and get rid of the boredom.

After all of that work, the game started at 8:20 p.m. Maine got off to a slow start, which makes sense because of the pregame circumstances. Vermont opened the game with a quick 8-0 lead and Maine then responded to cut the deficit. This was the game’s theme: Vermont would go on a run and the Black Bears would respond, but not enough to take the lead. The Black Bears did not take a lead once during the entire game, with their largest deficit being 17 with 16 minutes left in the second half.

The star player for the Catamounts was fifth-year guard Finn Sullivan. He managed to get a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds to go with three steals and three assists. The San Diego, California native and team captain went 9-17 from the field and 3-10 from three and also missed both of his free throw attempts. Vermont as a team is not collectively good at free throws as they rank near the bottom of the America East conference in free throw percentage, but towards the end of the game, they went 11-13 over the final three minutes to ice the game, including fifth-year guard Dylan Penn going a perfect 8-8 down the stretch. 

“It is hard to come back when a team essentially does not miss a free throw to close out the game and only committed three turnovers. They have a good team and we just did not play our best game tonight but I am proud of my guys,” said Chris Markwood, Maine’s head coach, after the game.

Two players in particular that Markwood was proud of were redshirt third-year forward Ata Turgut and third-year forward Peter Filipovity. Both have seen an increase in playing time because of an injury to starter Kristians Feierbergs. Turgut scored 14 points on a perfect 6-6 night and made both of his three-point attempts as well as three rebounds and three assists. Filipovity had 15 points and eight rebounds off of 511 shooting. Markwood went on to say that “Ata has been playing really good basketball for us even before Kristians’ injury, but now that he is getting more playing time and opportunities to show what he can do, he is progressing really well.” In his comments for Filipovity, Markwood said, “Peter is another one who was playing well before the injury and he has really improved his shooting and defense, and I am really excited to see the rest of this season and his career.”

As it was a good night for the two students, it was a relatively pedestrian night for the star guards. Fourth-year Jashonte Wright-McLeish only scored three points and only attempted four shots. First-year guard Jaden Clayton only attempted one field goal and missed it, and only scored two points from free throws. He also did not record a steal which is very uncommon for him because he leads the nation in steals. The leading scorer for the season and the game is fifth-year guard Gedi Juozapaitis, who had 16 points on 7-13 shooting. Those numbers are a little skewed because he made his last three shots, but he did not have nearly as good a game and shooting performance as he has had many times before this season. 

Maine has 10 wins on the season, which is the most they have had in the past decade. But that is not enough for coach Markwood. 

“As is, it is good to get over the hurdle of getting double-digit wins, but we have higher expectations and goals for this year and beyond. We still need to win more games in the league to make the playoffs and see where we can go from there. I am proud of my guys but I know we can climb to heights that haven’t been seen around here in a long time,” Markwood said.

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