The Maine men's basketball team (1-5) heads out on the road for a two game road swing through New Jersey and Connecticut this week as the squad will face NJIT on Wednesday and UConn on Friday. The Black Bears prepare for their second meeting with the Highlanders in a game that is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Newark N.J. and a Friday night showdown with the Huskies beginning at 7 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
The Black Bears received double-digit efforts from both Zarko Valjarevic and Till Gloger but fell to 1-5 overall as Dartmouth (3-1) defeated the Black Bears, 81-56 at the Cross Insurance Center, Sunday afternoon.
Valjarevic shot 7-of-12 from the field and 3-of-7 from 3-point range as he tallied 17 points in the losing effort. Gloger helped Maine both on the scoreboard and in the rebound department tallying 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Big Green had four players tally double-digits as Alex Mitola paced Dartmouth with 19 points. Maine's Ivy League foe also had Connor Boehm (15 points), Malik Gill (14 points) and John Golden (12 points) reach the double-digit plateau.
Maine took a 9-8 lead into the first media timeout as both Gloger and Micovic made their presence felt in the paint.
Coming out of the break Valjarevic drilled a trey to extend the lead to 11-8.
With the score 15-13, Valjarevic hit another 3-pointer coming out of the second media to extend the lead to 18-13.
Maine shooting went cold with under five minutes left as Dartmouth took its first lead of the game as Kevin Crescenzi hit a trey to give the Big Green a 24-23 lead.
Maine responded on the next possession as Troy Reid-Knight hit a 3-pointer of his own to make it 25-24 with under four minutes remaining in the half.
Dartmouth began to take control of the contest at the latter part of the first half as Boehm hit a late 3-point bucket to make it 31-25 with 2:05 remaining.
Dartmouth concluded the frame on a 14-5 run going into the break up 39-30.
Maine won the rebounding battle in the first part of the half but trailed off towards the end, maintaining a 21-17 advantage.
Beal opened the scoring in the second half bringing Maine to within seven points of the lead, 39-32.
Dartmouth responded with four points to increase the lead to double digits (45-32) to force a Black Bear timeout with 17:46 left to go in the game.
Dartmouth took complete control of the shortly there after as the Black Bears were outscored 42-26 in the final frame.
The Black Bears were edged in the rebounding battle 37-30 and in and field goal percentage, 48.4 percent to 40.8 percent.
The Black Bears now take to the road for a two-game slate first playing NJIT on Wednesday night and UConn on Friday night. Both games are slated for 6 p.m.
This will be the second time this season that the Black Bears have faced the Highlanders with the first coming on Nov. 19 as NJIT was Maine's inaugural game at the Cross Insurance Center. The Black Bears fell to NJIT, 88-82, as the squad was unable to overcome a poor first half, shooting only 33 percent even after scoring over 50 points in the second frame. Damon Lynn, who scored 24 points in the contest, paced the Highlanders, while NJIT had three other players reach double-digits.
Lynn leads the team offensively with 20.3 points per game while Terrence Smith also averages double-digit figures as he averages 13.8 points per contest.
The team relies heavily on the services of Smith in the rebound department as well as he leads the squad in boards-per-contest with 5.6 per game.
Ky Howard is the primary assist leader for the Highlanders with 34 total on the season which is good for a mark of 4.25 per game.
This will be the fourth meeting between these two squads as Maine holds a 2-1 advantage. The Black Bears defeated the Highlanders in 2006, 68-58 and in 2007, 86-58.
The Black Bears are taking time this non-conference season to get to know their lineup. Through six games the Black Bears have not sent out the same five starters more than once. Some of this is due to an injury to Xavier Pollard, suffered earlier in the year, otherwise nine different Black Bears have seen the starting lineup.
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 47-26 so far this season and has a .630 win percentage. In those 11 teams only one DI team has a record below .500 (Army 1-4).
RANKING THE BLACK BEARS
While the Black Bears have struggled against a tough non-conference schedule so far, Maine does rank fairly highly in many categories, in both the NCAA and the America East conference.
• Shaun Lawton moved up to 23rd in the nation in steals per game with 2.60, was previously 32nd.
America East Rankings
• Maine is the No. 2 scoring offense in the conference with 78.0 points per game while they rank as the league's ninth scoring defense letting up 90.0 ppg.
• Maine ranks fourth in the league in field goal percentage with a .447 mark
• The Black Bears are second in the America East in 3-pointer defense limiting opponents to .325 from beyond the arc.
• Maine ranks No.1 in assists (15.5 apg), No. 2 in steals per game (8.0), No. 3 in turnover margin (-0.33) and first assist/turnover ratio (1.2)
• Dimitry Akanda-Coronel is third in the league in scoring with 17.3 ppg.
• Shaun Lawton is both 2nd in the AE in assists (4.8) and first in steals (2.6).
• Zarko Valjarevic is 2nd in the conference in 3-pointers made per game with 2.7 per contest.
• Garet Beal is tops in the conference in assist/turnover ratio through five games with a 2.1 ratio as he averages 3.0 assists per game and 1.4 turnovers per game.
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 third in the league in points per game, scoring 17.3 points per game and is only .07 off Anthony Jackson from Stony Brook who currently leads the conference. Coronel has hit double digit points in five of six 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, against NJIT.
LAWTON OPENS SOME EYES
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 (4.8) and first in America East in steals per game (2.6).
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 48 steals and have limited opponents to 39 making for a 8.0-6.5 game average. Shaun Lawton leads the steal parade recording 12 in five 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, 93-91, with helpers. Maine tallied its highest assist output against Fisher on Nov. 10 dishing it out 29 times.