BANGOR Maine – With Maine leading 59-55 with 3:13 to go, the Black Bears could not hold off a late 9-2 run by Stony Brook, falling 64-61 on Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center. Maine nearly tied the contest on a last second 3-pointer, but the shot bounced off the rim to end the tightly contested effort.
The Black Bears drop to 6-21 on the season with a 3-9 record in the America East, while the Seawolves improve to 10-16 with a 5-7 conference record.
“We competed really hard and we competed for each other,” said head coach Bob Walsh after the game. “We stayed together, but we couldn’t make plays down the stretch. Up four (59-55) with 3:13 to go, and they closed on with a 9-2 run. They made some tough plays and we struggled to make plays. That was the difference.”
Aaron Calixte once again led the way for Maine, registering a game-high 19 points, with 10 points coming from the free throw line (10-11). The lone missed free throw snapped a 25-consecutuive free throw made streak. The redshirt junior also dished six assists, grabbed three rebounds, and garnered three steals in 35 minutes played.
Isaiah White registered his seventh double-figure scoring game of the season, with 14 points. The Ellicott City, Maryland native stuffed the box score with four boards, three assists, two blocks, and also earned a steal on the day.
In his second to last game at the Cross Insurance Center, senior Ilker Er tallied 11 points in 20 minutes played. Andrew Fleming led Maine in the rebound column with five, while Celio Araujo and Danny Evans each snatched four.
The Black Bear shot lights out from the charity stripe, sinking 18-of-23 shots from the free throw line. The Black Bears converted all 10 attempts in the first half, and made eight of 13 shots down the stretch in the second half.
“Getting to the free throw line is very important,” continued Walsh. “It means that we are attacking the rim. Some days we can convert, some days we can’t. Our guys understand that one or two plays, and one or two missed free throws, makes a difference. I thought the free throw line kept us in the game, when we were struggling to score from the field.”
Stony Brook built an early 21-10 advantage during the first nine minutes, but Maine clawed back to cut the deficit to four at 25-21 following an 11-4 run. The run featured seven points from Er, while Calixte and Dennis Ashley each made both of their shots from the free throw line during the five minute stretch.
The Seawolves quickly expanded their lead back to nine at 30-21, but the Black Bears ended the half on an 11-3 sprint, with seven points coming from Calixte in the final 2:51 of the opening half. Maine trailed by just one at 33-32 at halftime.
Maine achieved its first lead of the game when White opened the second half scoring with a layup, but the two teams would trade buckets and leads until the Black Bears charged on a 7-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 46-38 with 14:26 left in the second half.
Over the next four minutes, Stony Brook erased Maine’s advantage, knotting up the score at 47-47. The Seawolves took the lead for the time being, but Maine battled to build the lead back to four with 3:13 left.
With the Seawolves leading 61-59 with 19 ticks remaining, Calixte missed a layup attempt. Maine was forced to foul, as Stony Brook’s Tyrell Sturdivant knocked down both free throw attempts to increase the lead to four at 63-59.
With three seconds left, Araujo chucked the ball down the court, which hit a Stony Brook defender and gave Maine possession of the ball under the net. Calixte found Fleming off the inbound for an easy layup with just 1.4 seconds left to cut Stony Brook’s lead to three points.
Maine instantly fouled on the Stony Brook possession, the Seawolves’ UC Iroegbu missed their first attempt, before sinking their second to increase their lead to 64-61.
Er found Fleming with a perfect one handed pass in the corner, but the sophomore’s 3-point attempt with 1.4 seconds did not go in, as Stony Brook escaped Bangor with a 64-61 win.
On the stat sheet, Maine held advantages in field goal percentage (37.4 percent to 36.7 percent), assists (12-11), points in the paint (26-14) and fast break points (12-0).
The Seawolves had four double-figure scorers, with U.C. Iroegbu leading the way with 13 points. Elijah Olaniyi, Akwasi Yeboahm, and Sturdivant each recorded 11 points.
Maine kicks off a three-game road trip on Thursday, traveling to play Hartford. The tip at Chase Arena in West Hartford is slated for 7:00 p.m.