The University of Maine men’s basketball team lost to their archrival, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats, by a score of 99-91 on Monday night at home. Maine ultimately lost the contest due to major first half struggles and a lack of toughness down the stretch.
Heading into halftime, the Wildcats led the Black Bears 52-3, and the game looked completely out of reach for Maine. New Hampshire dominated Maine in every aspect of the game during the first half, shooting 50 percent from the floor to Maine’s 31 percent, and outrebounded the Black Bears 32-12.
Maine shot themselves out of the game from beyond the arc in the first half, converting on a dismal 4-of-14, opposed to New Hampshire’s 3-for-5 shooting from three-point land. UNH second-year forward Iba Camara single handedly outrebounded the entire Black Bears team in the first half, 13-12.
Black Bears Head Coach Bob Walsh did not appreciate his team’s effort on the glass in the opening half, and appeared disappointed by Camara’s rebounding total.
“Camara, he had more rebounds than our entire locker room at halftime, it’s ridiculous. I give him credit, he’s a tough kid but we need to get a lot tougher,” Walsh said.
The Black Bears played a much better second half, but it was too little too late for them to put together a comeback. However, Maine refused to give up easily, erasing the enormous deficit in the second half by outscoring New Hampshire 61-47. The Black Bears shot a much-improved 48 percent from the field, in large part due to their success with the deep ball. Maine connected on 7-of-15 shots from three-point land in the second half.
New Hampshire’s second-year forward Tanner Leissner stole the show, as he went off for 30 points and seven rebounds. Maine had no answer for Leissner all game.
Camara ended up with a healthy double-double, scoring 16 points and collecting 18 rebounds. Third-year guard Daniel Dion played a huge role in the win for UNH, coming off the bench and contributing with 19 points and three rebounds. Dion shot 5-for-10 from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
For the Black Bears, it was second-year guard Kevin Little who led the way with 19 points, shooting 6-of-16 from the field. Fourth-year forward Shaun Lawton and second-year guard Aaron Calixte each chipped in with 16 points and two assists respectively for Maine.
New Hampshire overwhelmed Maine all night with their superior size advantage and presence in the paint. The Black Bears were bullied in the paint, with UNH controlling the boards and down low play. UNH outrebounded Maine 52-33 on the glass and outscored Maine 46-26 in the paint.
Walsh was not pleased with his team’s compete level after the game.
“Give credit to their team, they were so much more physically and mentally tougher than us tonight. They played with a competitive edge we couldn’t match. They hammered us on the boards, they got to the free-throw line and killed us there, didn’t let us get comfortable in the half court on our offense – that is just toughness. We got completely out toughed in every aspect of the game. Now hopefully we understand the level of physicality and level of toughness you need to win,” Walsh said.
The Black Bears drop to 6-12 on the season and 2-3 in league play after the loss, while the Wildcats improve to 9-8 overall on the season and 2-2 in America East play.
Maine returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 24 when they travel to Stony Brook to take on the first place Seawolves with a tip off at 2 p.m.