Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mens Basketball Fends off NJIT

The University of Maine men’s basketball team picked up their second consecutive win on Saturday afternoon in Orono, defeating the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders with a score of 68-58. 

Third-year guard Quion Burns amassed a career-high 13 points in just 17 minutes coming off the bench in the victory. Fourth-year forward Peter Fillipovity tallied 21 points and seven rebounds. 

Heading into the game, Maine stood fifth in the conference standings, while NJIT was at the bottom of the table in ninth place. The attitude in the Maine locker room was that this was a must-win contest. In a pregame interview with ESPN+, UMaine assistant coach Pete Gash described the team as being in “desperation mode” as they jockeyed for position in the final stretch of the regular season. 

Despite the messaging from the coaching staff, the Black Bears once again started the game flat-footed, allowing the Highlanders to jump out to a 12-6 lead in the opening minutes. 

Before long, Maine settled in, as they went on a run to tie the game at 14. The scoring streak was capped off by an emphatic one-hand dunk by third-year AJ Lopez. 

The first half continued back-and-forth as the Highlanders took a 30-25 lead into the locker room for the halftime break. NJIT guard Tariq Francis picked apart the Maine defense at the end of the half. 

Francis, a freshman, has won seven America East Rookie of the Week awards this year. 

Down 41-35 with 14 minutes remaining, Maine went on an electric 17-1 scoring run to take a 52-42 lead. Burns put the team on his back during this run, scoring on four consecutive possessions, including an and-one and three-point basket. 

Having secured a ten-point lead, the Black Bears coasted the rest of the way to take home their fifth conference win. 

Maine advanced to 13-15 overall and 5-8 in-conference with the victory. Five of Maine’s conference losses have been within a margin of five points. 

A large part of Maine’s ability to come back and secure the victory was their second-half defense. In the first half, the Highlanders shot 52% from the floor. With their halftime adjustments, the Black Bears limited them to a 27% field goal percentage in the second quarter.

Maine managed to limit Francis’s second-half production as the phenomenal young guard finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Francis shot 6-20 for the game, including 2-10 from beyond the arc. 

The Black Bears dominated the paint, outscoring NJIT 36-18 in that area. Maine also leaned on 21 points from the bench for a complete team win.

Once again, third-year guard Kellen Tynes was all over the floor, collecting seven points, three rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Tynes’ hustle and impact on the defensive end have been instrumental in the Black Bears’ success this season.

Maine looks ahead to a two-game road trip, starting on Thursday at Binghamton University, which defeated the Black Bears 51-50 at the Cross Insurance Center earlier in the season. 

Get the Maine Campus' weekly highlights right to your inbox!
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Secure and Spam free...