UMaine men’s basketball team gains 1st AE Conference win

The UMaine men’s hoop team trailed at the half again this time 34-27 to the Binghamton Bearcats on the road as they have many times as they have in many of their previous games so far this year.

Maine looked like they had in their previous 8 straight losses to D-1 teams. Poor shot selection,  poor man-to-man defense,too many turnovers and too many fouls.

However, after half time they were a completely different team as they made a complete positive turn around as they made excellent basketball decisions as shown by their good shot selection, fewer turnovers, improved man-to-man defense,  and fewer personal fouls.

In the first half Maine was just 2 for 9 from the 3 point arc and went into the game shooting just 27.3% against D-1 competition and 29.7% overall.

However, in the second half because they were more patient, offensively, got the ball inside more than usual and were very team oriented when they went 5 for 12 from beyond the line for 48.1% ending the game 7 for 21 for 33%.

They also reduced their percentage of 3’s out of their total FGA’s as 3’s as they only took 21 of their 54 shots as threes for 38.8% coming into the game they had taken 44.1% of their FGA’s  as threes. They made much better basketball decisions, got to the foul line for 22 attempts of which they made 17-22 for 77.3%. by going inside more then they usually do.

Putting 6’6″ Ilker Er into the low post area in the paint when he usually plays facing the basket outside the 3 point line and looks for the 3 had Maine score 34 of their points in the paint, lead by Er whose 10 FG”s made only had 2 3’s in his scoring of 23 game leading points.

Araon Calixe had another fine all around game as he scored 18 points and had 5 assists and Isaiah White chipped in with 13 points.

Maine shot 26 of 54 from the floor for 48.1% to Binghamton’s 26 of 62 for 41.7%. Maine out shot the Bearcats from beyond the arc on 7 of 21 for 33.3% to Binghamton’s 6 of 22 for 27.3%. Maine out shot the Bings 17 for 22 from the line for 77.3% to the Bing’s 15 of 21 for 72.4%. Maine took only 38.8% of their FGA’s as 3’s while Binghamton took just 35.5%

Each team had 12 assists of their 26 made baskets.for just under 50%.

Maine had 37 rebounds to Binghamtons 36

Maine had 18 turnovers to BB’s 19.

Maine was very impressive in coming from behind late in the game especially after losing a tough 71-70 contest at Stonybrook on a last second 3 by the Seawolves. In fact, Maine is just that 3 away from being 2-0 in the conference standings.

Maine’s improvement in  shot selection, team play, looking pass first and shot second as individual players with  the ball, along with getting the ball inside effectively against a bigger Bearcat team as Maine scored 34 points in the Paint to Binghamton’s 28 points was very impressive and heartwarming. Defintely for a team that has suffered thru a tough non-conference schedule 12 losses and their opening game conference loss that they could have easily won..

Maine also only used 9 players double figure minutes when they had 12 averaging double figure minutes going into the game.This was also a big factor in the win as it kept the better payers on the floor more.

Maine also played excellent man to man defense in the second half which seemed to fire the players  up offensively as they out scored Binghamton 49 to 39 in the second half.

All these positive factors contributed to the comeback win. Now if Maine can continue this type of play they could possibly finish as high in the standings as fourth or higher which would give them a home game opening quarter-final contest in the Conference Tourney to determine who gets the automatic bid to the big dance.Which by the way something a Blackbear team has never made in the history of the men’s basketball program.

This group of players have continued to play hard even though they are 4-13 overall and 2-13 against D-1 opponents. Even in games where they have been behind by a large margin at half time they have continued to hang in there and there is no quit in their basketball vocabulary as was shown tonight after coming from 10 down in the second half after losing that tough game at Stonybrook last Wednesday night and also making big comebacks in several consecutive non conference games only to fall short.

Tonight they were rewarded for their hard work, positive attitudes and working together for each other as shown in the second half of the game tonight.

Maine fans saw what this team is capable of  this afternoon and let’s hope that they continue from this excellent half of  basketball to make a serious run to fourth place or better  in the final America East Conference’s regular season standings to get that home game for the quarter-finals in March.

I have said from day one of this season especially after seeing them play their 2 pre-season exhibition games that Maine had enough talent and hard working players that they could go 8-8 and finish fourth and if they continue to play in the next 14 regular season conference games that could easily happen. However, one game does not a season make.