The Maine men's basketball team (1-4) hosts the Dartmouth Big Green (2-1) on Sunday, Dec. 1 at the Cross Insurance Center. The game is slated for 2 p.m. and is the third game in what has been a three-game homestand for Maine. This will be the 20th meeting between the Big Green and Black Bears as Maine holds a 10-9 lead in the overall series history.
LAST TIME OUT
The University of Maine men's basketball (1-4) dropped a 102-61 decision to Quinnipiac (4-1) at Cross Insurance Center on Monday evening. Xavier Pollard and Dimitry Akanda-Coronel led the way for the Black Bears with 18 points each while Shaun Lawton added 11.
The Black Bears had a familiar face open the scoring as Xavier Pollard drove to the net and put in a layup as he scored his first points since going out with an injury against Fisher on Nov. 10.
Akanda-Cornell followed that up with a dunk to make it 4-2 Maine.
The Bobcats took control the following possession as the squad went on a 14-4 run with 12:09 left to go in the first half, forcing a Maine timeout. Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame both led the charge for Quinnipiac scoring four points in the run.
Akanda-Coronel sparked a Maine comeback, as he registered a three-point play to make it 16-8 and then broke up court the following possession and laid in another bucket to make it 16-10 with 10:26 to go in the first frame.
Maine cut the Bobcat lead to two on a Pollard three-point play connecting on the foul shot following a bucket.
The Bobcats took control again jumping out to a 12 point lead again with under six minutes remaining in the half until a Pollard jumper cut it back to 10, 30-20, Quinnipiac.
The Maine offense as a whole struggled through the remaining segment of the half as the Bobcats outscored Maine 11-9 through the final five minutes as the Black Bears went to halftime down 41-29.
Both teams were cold from the field as they shot 37 percent with Pollard pacing the Black Bears with 15 points through the first frame.
Both Azotam and Drame scored nine points leading the way for Quinnipiac.
Quinnipiac didn't look back after that first stanza, outscoring the Black Bears 61-33 in the second half as they closed out the win, 102-61.
The Big Green enters the post-Thanksgiving contest with a 2-1 record having recorded wins over UMass-Lowell and Lyndon State.
Dartmouth has had tremendous success through its first three games holding a +17.7-scoring margin (86.7-69.0). They've also won the battle of the glass through the trio of games with a +13.0 rebound margin (39.3-26.3) as well as recording 16.0 assists per game and 6.7 steals per game.
The Big Green spreads their scoring around as all five of their starters average double digit points. Tyler Melville is the leader in the clubhouse averaging 12.3 points per game, shooting an impressive .583 from beyond the arc (7-of-12). Meanwhile the trio of Connor Boehm (11.3), Gabas Maldunas (11.3) and Alex Mitola (11.0) all average 11 points per game and John Golden averages 10.3 points per game.
Maldunas has been Dartmouth's best rebounder so far this season as he maintains an 11.7 rebound-per-game average while he also paces the Big Green in assists with eight total.
This is the 20th Meeting between Dartmouth and Maine according to the series history, which dates back to 1970. The Black Bears fell the last time these two teams played in 2012-13 as the Big Green hosted Maine on Nov. 10 and came away with a 67-54 win. The first meeting (according to the official record book) took place in 1974 when Maine defeated Dartmouth in a nail-biter, 87-86 in Hanover, N.H. The two teams have been fairly even both home and away as Maine is 4-5 at home while fairing better in Hanover, N.H. going 4-3. The Black Bears also beat Dartmouth in a neutral site game in New Mexico in December in 1989.
The Black Bears have faced some fierce competition in the first five games and have proven to be able to put points on the board. The Black Bears have averaged 82.4 points per contest. Coming into the week the Black Bears were 30th in the country in scoring average and are the highest America East team on that chart.
The Black Bears are midway through what has been a challenging non-conference slate and it doesn't look to get any easier for Maine. The combined record of the 11 teams the squad faces before getting into America East play is 46-21 so far this season and has a .686 win percentage. In those 11 teams only one team has a record below .500 (Army 1-4).
RANKING THE BLACK BEARS
While the Black Bears have struggled against a tough non-conference slate so far, Maine does rank fairly highly In many categories, both in the America East conference and in all of Division I. Below are how Maine stacks up:
NCAA Rankings (through Nov. 24)
• Heading into the Quinnipiac game Maine ranked 29th in steals per game (9.5) while Shaun Lawton was 32nd in the nation in steals per game with 2.67.
• Maine was tied for 23rd in the nation in assists per game average with 17.5, with Lawton leading the way, as he was 14th in the country with a 6.7 ratio (all before the Quinnipiac game).
• Maine ranked within the top-50 in assist/turnover ratio heading into the game against the Bobcats with a 1.40 mark, with 70 assists to 40 turnovers.
America East Rankings (Through Nov. 27)
• Maine is the No.1 scoring offense in the conference with 82.4 points per game while they rank as the league's ninth scoring defense letting up 91.8 ppg.
• Maine ranks third in the league in field goal percentage with a .450 mark
• The team is also third in 3-pointer percentage with a .330 mark.
• Maine ranks No.1 in assists (15.8 apg), No. 2 in steals per game (8.8) and No. 2 in both turnover margin (+0.80) and assist/turnover ratio (10.8)
• Dimitry Akanda-Coronel is second in the league in scoring with 19.6 ppg (just .01 point off leader Anthony Jackson from Stony Brook)
• Shaun Lawton is both 2nd in the AE in assists (5.5) and steals (2.8).
• Zarko Valjarevic is 2nd in the conference in 3-pointers made per game with 2.6 per contest.
Black Bear fans may not have seen much of Dimitry Akanda-Coronel before the season started but they are fully aware of who he is now, and more importantly what he is capable of on the front court. The Black Bear sophomore is second in the league in points per game scoring 19.6 points per game and is only .01 off Anthony Jackson from Stony Brook who currently leads the conference. Coronel has hit double digit points in all four contests he's played in and was one point shy reaching the 30-point mark for the first time since last season when Justin Edwards accomplished the feat against Northeastern.
Another surprise player for Maine basketball fans has to be sophomore Shaun Lawton who has done an incredible job of filling in for injured Black Bears. He first came in for Xavier Pollard who exited the Fisher game with an injury and missed two contests and recently Lawton filled in for banged up Garet Beal. Lawton has been an assist and steals master for Maine as he ranks 2nd in the conference in assists per game (5.5) and first in America East in steals per game (2.8).
The Black Bears have done a nice job stealing the basketball in 2013-14. Maine holds a +2.5 steals margin in their games as they have tallied 44 steals and have limited opponents to 31 making for a 8.8-6.2 game average. Shaun Lawton leads the steal parade recording 11 in four games.
LEND A HELPING HAND
The Black Bears have been an offense that has been centered on setting up offensive plays and sharing the basketball and it appears to have continued this season. Maine has led in the assist category in games twice so far this year and leads their opponents, 79-76 with helpers. Maine tallied its highest assist output against Fisher on Nov. 10 dishing it out 29 times.