February 18, 2019
MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Superior height sparks UM win

ORONO – The focus was on the frontcourt coming into Saturday’s Maine Holiday Classic opener, which also happened to be part three in a battle for regional pride and bragging rights.

With one of the premier centers on the East coast; a strong, physical frontcourt; and a lineup that easily outsized their neighbors from Bangor’s Husson College, the University of Maine men’s team fully expected to make life difficult for the Braves inside at Alfond Arena Saturday afternoon.

The Black Bears did that and then some with a commanding 100-68 victory over the Braves for their second win in three meetings, but you wouldn’t have gleaned it from some of the post-game comments.

“When you’re four or five inches bigger at every position, you should probably get more rebounds and score more around the basket,” said Maine coach John Giannini, whose Bears improved to 3-6. “Frontcourt-wise, we’ve been good the last two games, but today was not good at all.”

Maine scored 26 points in the paint to Husson’s 10 in the first half and had a 56-26 edge overall, but the Bears only out-rebounded Husson 46-39 overall.

The Bears’ big men got off to a slow start, but made up for it by playing a more inspired second half to help put the game out of reach with a couple of key, late runs.

Senior forward Rickey White led the charge productively and emotionally.

“We had to jack up our intensity, on offense and defense,” said White, who finished with 18 points. “The game should have been won in the first half, not the second.”

After a first half in which he was whistled for two early fouls and held scoreless, White started the second half emphatically with a thunderous, two-handed dunk and then scored 12 of Maine’s 19 points – four on back-to-back dunks off turnovers – in a seven-minute span that turned a 19-point UM lead into 30 and put the game out of reach for Husson.

“Early on we did what we had to do. We hung around and kept it close,” said Braves coach Warren Caruso. “Then in the second half’s middle six minutes or so, it got away from us. We got a little unglued.”

Senior forward Clayton Brown also started slowly, but finished with a flourish as he led the Bears with 20 points and nine rebounds.

“We have to be on the boards even harder against teams with size because if we do this against them, we’ll have sad faces in the locker room,” Brown said.

Maine used runs of 15-3 midway through the first half and 13-2 early in the second to take control of the game.

Maine freshman guard Kevin Reed scored 16 points and Bangor’s Joe Campbell came off the bench for a 15-point effort.

Junior guard Dwayne Ailey led the Braves with 21 points while senior forward Randy Fletcher finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

“This was a great chance to see how we match up against a good Division I team and go against some guys I played against in the summertime or in high school,” said Braves senior guard Ryan Rivera of Bradford. “We didn’t place any over-emphasis on this game, but we did look forward to it.”

BLACK BEARS 100, BRAVES 68

(Saturday Afternoon)

Husson (4-3) Maine (3-6)

Player G AG F AF TP Player G AG AF TP

Fletcher 6 15 7 10 19 Dobson 2 3 7

Rivera 3 9 2 2 9 Reed 6 9 16

Galley 1 3 0 0 2 Brown 9 18 20

Ailey 7 14 4 4 21 White 6 7 18

Harvey 1 5 2 4 4 Rowe 3 5 7

Armenakis 2 2 1 2 5 Petkus 0 4 0

Zeikus 2 8 3 4 8 Flavin 3 6 7

Cunningham 0 0 0 0 0 Hill 2 2 6

White 0 9 0 0 0 Dubois 1 4 4

Wada 0 0 0 0 0 Leavitt 0 2 0 0

Campbell 5 7 16 28 15

Totals 22 65 19 26 68 37 67 16 28 100

3-pt. goals: Husson (5-20): Ailey 3-5, Zeikus 1-5, Rivera 1-6, White 0-2, Harvey 0-2; Maine (10-23): Reed 4-7, Campbell 3-4, Hill 2-2, Dobson 1-1, White 0-1, Leavitt 0-2, Brown 0-3, Petkus 0-3

Attendance: 1,571

Halftime: Maine 49-36


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