|UMaine||Sacred Heart University|
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – In the Springfield Bracket’s consolation game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, the Maine Black Bears put together their best overall performance to date, but ultimately fell to Sacred Heart 69-68 in overtime, on Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena. Ilker Er and Ilija Stojiljkovic recorded their first career double-doubles in the loss.
The Black Bears (0-4) and Pioneers (1-3) opened Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament play on Sunday, and did not disappoint, battling the entire contest. The two teams changed leads a total of 26 times, along with 10 tied scores. Maine and Sacred Heart both scored an even 35 points in the first half, and 24 in the second half, but the Pioneers earned 10 points to the Black Bears’ nine in the overtime period to earn the win. Neither team established a lead of more than six points during the full 45 minutes of game play.
Four Black Bears registered double-figures in scoring, as Ilker Er and Ilija Stojiljkovic both recorded their first career double-doubles to lead Maine offensively and on the glass. Er tied his career-high with 20 points which he set against Duke last season, and brought down a career-high 10 rebounds. The senior was named to the Springfield Bracket’s All-Tournament Team following the game.
Stojiljkovic shot an efficient 4-5 from the field, and knocked down two free throws for 10 total points. The junior tallied a team-high 11 rebounds. Aaron Calixte put up a season-high 18 points on 7-15 shooting from the field during a team-high 41 minutes played. Andrew Fleming was the other Black Bear to reach double-figures in scoring, putting up 11 points, with nine coming in the second-half alone.
The Black Bears outperformed the Pioneers on the interior, holding a 34-26 advantage in points in the paint. Maine led for a 24:47 of the game compared to Sacred Heart’s 15:23.
With the score tied at 50-50 with 5:24 left in the second half, Maine put together a 5-0 run featuring three free throws from Fleming, along with an Er layup as Maine took its largest lead of the game. The Black Bears added two points on a Fleming layup, to take a 57-53 advantage, but the Pioneers converted two free throws to cut Maine’s lead to 57-55 with 1:16 left in the half.
Calixte added a layup to extend Maine’s lead to 59-55, but Sacred Heart got those points back on free throws soon after. The Black Bears had a chance to extend their lead on free throws late, but were unsuccessful. Sacred Heart took advantage by laying in two points with seven seconds left to force overtime.
The Pioneers struck first in the extra period on a layup to take their first lead in seven minutes. Maine took back the lead when Er sunk a three-pointer with 4:19 left in overtime. Sacred Heart would take a three point lead at 67-64, but a layup by Stojiljkovic sliced Maine’s deficit to one at 67-66. The teams traded two free throws each, as the Pioneers held a 69-68 lead with eight seconds left. Stojiljkovic rebounded a free throw that went wide, but Maine could not drain a game-winning shot to fall by a score of 69-68.
The Black Bears are back in action this Wednesday, when Maine hosts Boston University in the home opener at the Cross Insurance Arena. Tip-Off is set for 2:00 p.m. in Bangor on Thanksgiving-eve.