In an America East conference matchup, the eighth-placed University of Maine Black Bears took down the second-place Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks 75-70 on Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The win moves them to an overall record of 8-12 and a conference record of 2-5.
They were able to pull the upset with tenacious defense by forcing 17 turnovers compared to committing 13, having nine steals against the Riverhawks’ five and four blocks to two. The NCAA leader in steals, Maine’s second-year guard Kellen Tynes, had three of them. Maine was also able to shoot better in every aspect by being more efficient in field goal percentage and three-point percentage. A 53% mark from the field and 50% beyond the three-point line helped carry the Black Bears to the finish. In addition to solid team defense, the Black Bears were also able to control the pace of play. They were able to do that by dominating the time with the lead by having the edge for 34 minutes of the 40-minute contest, compared to just under three minutes for UML.
The leading scorer for Maine was Kristians Feierbergs with 18 points. The second-year forward from Latvia went 7-8 from the field including 4-4 from three-point range. The Black Bear scoring attack was very balanced with four other players in addition to Feierbergs hitting double digits in points. The list includes the aforementioned Tynes with 13, first-year guard Jayden Clayton with 12, third-year forward Peter Filipovity with 11 and fourth–year guard Gedi Juozapaitis with 10.
UMass Lowell controlled the rebound department with an edge of 36-27 and offensive rebounds 16-5. A large part of this is because UML has a taller and longer roster than UMaine. The Black Bears had only three players who suited up who were taller than 6-foot-4. (Filipovity, Feierbergs, and Ata Turgut) compared to the six for the Riverhawks. Lowell’s biggest and best player is 6-foot-9 fourth-year center Abdoul Karim Coulibaly who put up 16 points and eight rebounds, which led the team in both categories. These numbers are above his season averages of 12 and 6, but he was not allowed to get on a roll with tough team defense constantly swarming him. The Black Bears had physical and solid defensive play from Tynes, Clayton, Filipovity and Adefolarin “Fofo” Adetogun to name a few. The game was extremely physical and chippy throughout the night. The referees essentially swallowed the whistles unless it was absolutely necessary, which had both head coaches bothered at numerous points.
UML falls to 17-5 overall and 5-3 in American East play. They have benefited gratefully from the transfer portal by landing a total of seven players, two of which have played in the NCAA tournament (Coulibaly for St. Bonaventure and Quinton Mincey for Mount St. Mary’s, both in 2021).
(Stats accurate as of January 26)