June 21, 2018
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Army hands UMaine men’s basketball team seventh straight loss

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine men’s basketball team shot almost 52 percent from the floor Friday night.

But the Black Bears’ defense and rebounding woes continued.

Army made 10 3-pointers, shot 45 percent overall and tallied 25 second-chance points on its way to a 90-80 victory over UMaine at the Cross Insurance Center.

“We all rely on each other. We just try to help the helper,” junior guard Xavier Pollard said of UMaine’s defensive effort. We couldn’t finish off the plays tonight and that leads to kick-out 3’s and other things.”

It was the seventh consecutive loss for coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears (1-8), who should be able to end their frustrations in Sunday’s 2 p.m. home game against Division III UMaine-Presque Isle at Memorial Gym in Orono.

“I thought we got a lot of contributions, but we’ve just got to work on being consistent the whole time through,” Woodward said.

“We had trouble slowing them down on the offensive end,” he added.

Army (3-6) demonstrated crisp offensive execution, inside-outside balance and overall depth to post its second straight win. The Black Knights utilized 11 players, with 10 of them logging at least 10 minutes.

Army coach Zach Spiker was pleased with the win, but equally concerned about his team’s defensive performance.

“If you put 90 on the board you certainly put yourself in a good situation,” he said. “Our focus moving forward will be, you can’t have success long term having teams shoot 51 percent [against you].”

Kyle Wilson tossed in a game-high 24 points to spark Army, which shot 48 percent from the 3-point arc. Kevin Ferguson posted 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks while Mo Williams added 11 points and Tanner Plomb handed out five assists.

Pollard sparked UMaine with a team-high 19 points, six rebounds and four assists. Freshmen Garet Beal of Beals Island (six rebounds) and Troy Reid-Knight contributed 11 points each.

Dimitry Akanda-Coronel and Zarko Valjarevic chipped in nine points apiece, while Shaun Lawton added eight points, three assists and three steals.

Army outrebounded UMaine 37-33 and grabbed 14 offensive boards. That helped the Black Knights rack up 25 second-chance points.

“Fourteen is a lot of offensive rebounds to give up,” Woodward said.

“Unfortunately, those resulted in a couple kick-out 3’s which is just a dagger,” he added.

The Black Knights made their move four minutes into the second half, rattling off 10 unanswered points to turn a five-point lead into a 15-point bulge.

Wilson opened the run with a conventional three-point play, then Ferguson cashed in a UMaine turnover with a low-post basket. A 3-pointer by Williams and Ferguson’s short turnaround extended Army’s advantage to 65-50 with 14:04 remaining.

“They were a very good team, a very good shooting team, especially in transition,” Beal said. “That’s something we’ve got to work on, but we’re getting better every day.”

The Bears made one final run on the heels of Army’s 10-0 burst. Pollard split two defenders in the paint for a basket, then hit a 10-foot turnaround jumper.

Lawton followed with a steal and finger roll and shortly thereafter fed Stefan Micovic for a back-door dunk off an alley-oop pass as UMaine cut the deficit to 65-58 with 12:39 to play.

However, Army settled down and the Bears experienced some turnover woes (12 of their 18 were in the second half) to keep the upper hand.

There was plenty of offense in the first half, which ended with Army clinging to a 46-44 lead.

The Bears ended the period with a 6-0 burst that seemed to give the hosts some energy going into the locker room.

Both teams effectively broke down the other’s defense as UMaine shot a healthy 52 percent from the floor, while Army connected at 47 percent. The squads also combined for 10 3-pointers, including a 6-for-12 effort.

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