ALBANY, N.Y. – The duo of Aaron Calixte and Isaiah White combined to score 47 points, but UAlbany outlasted a late comeback bid by Maine, defeating the Black Bears 89-79 on Saturday night at SEFCU Arena.
The Black Bears (6-24, 3-12 AE) put together their second most efficient shooting effort of the campaign, shooting 52.5 percent (31-of-59) from the floor, compared to UAlbany’s (21-9, 9-6 AE) 42 percent (27-65) field goal percentage.
Calixte’s 25 points set a new career-high, surpassing his previous-high of 24, which he reached in three games this season. The redshirt junior tallied 18 in the second half alone, on a blistering 7-of-8 shooting in the final 20 minutes. He went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and tallied three assists and three steals in 36 minutes of game action.
White’s 22 points came one shy of matching a career-high, which he set at UMBC on Jan. 27. The Ellicott City, Maryland native also grabbed six boards and swatted two shots against the Great Danes.
A total of four Black Bears reached double-figures in scoring with Vernon Lowndes Jr. and Andrew Fleming joining Calixte and White. Lowndes Jr. had a big second half, with 10 of 12 points coming in the final 20 minutes. Fleming registered 11 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks in a near double-double performance. Celio Araujo distributed a game-high five assists in 13 minutes on the court.
Maine started the contest strong offensively, knocking down 9-of-13 shots to start the game, but then went cold, making just two of its last 13 over the final eight minutes of the first half. As a result, Maine’s 20-19 lead vanished, with the Great Danes ending the half on a 20-6 run to take a 39-26 lead into the locker room. White’s 12 first half points led the way for the Black Bears in the opening 20 minutes.
White opened the second half scoring with an up-and-under layup, which spawned a Black Bear 12-4 charge over the opening four minutes of the frame. Calixte drained two 3-pointers during the run, along with four points from White and Fleming to make it a four-point game at 44-40.
Following the Maine run, UAlbany put together a 6-0 run to reclaim a 10-point lead at 50-40.
After the teams traded baskets, a 4-point play by Aaron Calixte with 8:56 remaining sliced UAlbany’s advantage to just 60-53. The Great Danes responded with a 12-6 sprint to retake a 13-point lead at 72-59.
The Black Bears made seven of its last eight attempts from the floor, getting within six points at 85-79, but the Great Danes converted their free throw attempts late to hold off the Black Bears with a final score of 89-79.
Along with achieving the better field goal percentage, Maine also led in points in the paint (44-40), assists (17-11), and blocks (9-1). UAlbany held a significant advantages in the rebounding column (45-26), and tuned the ball over 14 times compared to Maine’s 19.
Overall the Black Bears outscored the Great Danes 53-50 in the final half. In two games this season, Maine outscored UAlbany by a clip of 106-86 in second halves.
With Hartford’s 67-57 win over Binghamton earlier in the evening, Maine secured an America East playoff berth. The Black Bears will face the number one seed Vermont Catamounts on March 3rd, in Burlington. The opening tip time will be announced early next week.
Maine closes the regular season on Tuesday, facing the Catamounts on Senior Night in Bangor. Tipoff against the regular season America East Champions begins at 7:00 p.m.