The University of Maine men’s basketball team would like to present itself with an early Christmas present on Friday afternoon: a three-game winning streak.
But that would mean beating a Brown University team that has beaten UMaine the past two seasons including last year’s 62-54 setback in Orono and a 75-62 loss two years ago.
The 5-4 Black Bears and 5-7 Brown Bears will square off at 2 p.m. at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, R.I.
Two of the architects behind Brown’s victory over Maine a year ago are gone.
Peter Sullivan, who had 21 points including a 13-for-13 showing from the foul line, graduated and All-Ivy League forward Tucker Halpern (12 points, 10 rebounds) will miss the season due to illness.
“That’s our goal. We want to hit the break on a high note,” said Maine senior guard Gerald McLemore, who was limited to six points in last year’s loss after having missed the previous game due to the flu.
“They’re a very good team. They’ve beaten us the last two years. They chip away at you. They don’t give up. They keep fighting until the end. So it’s going to be a battle. But we definitely want to get this victory,” added McLemore.
“We want to redeem ourselves,” said freshman guard Justin Edwards.
The return of 6-foot-9 junior forward Mike Allison to the lineup has given the Black Bears a lift in their two victories.
He had missed the first seven games due to a concussion and a broken hand.
Allison has contributed 17 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots to the two victories.
“With Mike out there, we’re a completely different team,” said Maine sophomore forward Alasdair Fraser. “He completes this team.”
Fraser is looking forward to Friday’s challenge.
“We want to beat them on their home floor like they beat us on ours last year,” said Fraser.
The Black Bears have been receiving contributions from a lot of players in their two victories and Maine coach Ted Woodward said that depth is particularly helpful in a situation when you play three games in five days.
“Certainly with a short week, any energy you can get off the bench is huge,” said Woodward. “We’re deep enough to be able to get some of that.”
Woodward singled out guards Raheem Singleton and Xavier Pollard for their contributions in the win over Eastern Illinois.
Singleton had five assists and Pollard grabbed three rebounds. Each also scored two points.
“They gave us a huge push against Eastern Illinois,” said Woodward. “They did a great job.”
Woodward has a lot of respect for Brown and said it would be a mistake to consider them a typical Ivy League team that milks the clock during their possessions to get a high-percentage shot a few seconds before the shot clock goes off.
“They can score. They put up 90 points on Central Connecticut and Central Connecticut is an awfully good team,” said Woodward.
“They have talented players and if you get caught sleeping [on defense], they’ll score on you,” said McLemore. “They get nice movement off the ball, they’ll get you tired and when you aren’t paying attention, they’ll score.”