NEW YORK — Despite a late rally by the University of Maine men’s basketball team, the Black Bears fell to Columbia 83-71 at Levien Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
Aaron Calixte poured in a game-high 19 points (7-13 field goals, 3-6 3-pointers), including 13 points in the second half alone to lead the Black Bears. Calixte broke the Maine school record for consecutive free throws made in a season, sinking his 33rd and 34th straight attempts in the second half.
The 57-year-old school record was set during the 1960-1961 season by Black Bears great Skip Chappelle. Calixte’s streak has spanned the last 10 games, starting in the second half against Quinnipiac on Nov. 26. The redshirt junior is now shooting 93 percent (49-for-53) on the season from the charity stripe.
Vernon Lowndes Jr. tallied 11 points, with eight coming in the second half. Andrew Fleming recorded nine points, while Ilker Er added eight points and a team-high eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action for Maine.
Maine (3-12) and Columbia (2-10) battled back-and-forth in the Black Bears’ nonconference finale to start the game, with neither team gaining a significant advantage.
With the Black Bears trailing 15-12, the Lions finished the first half on a 31-15 run to take a 46-27 halftime advantage. The Lions capitalized from long range in the first 20 minutes, shooting 50 percent from 3-point range (8-for-19).
The Lions entered the game ranked 25th nationally in 3-point field goals per game, averaging 10.5 per contest.
Calixte started the second half strong, draining his first two field-goal attempts in the second half, but the Lions remained hot from the field to increase their lead to as high as 33 points at 74-40 with 10:10 remaining in the second half.
The Black Bears fought back, countering with an impressive 19-2 run in the final six minutes to come within 12 points of Columbia.
Four Lions reached double figures led by Quinton Adlesh and Mike Smith, who each dropped in 16 points.
Maine is off for the rest of 2017, resuming action on Jan 3., when it opens the America East slate with a 7 p.m. game on Long Island against Stony Brook.