Pollard Sparks Maine Men’s Basketball to Victory as Black Bears Down UNH, 68-60
DURHAM, N.H. – The Black Bears were sparked by Xavier Pollard's 20 points as the Maine men's basketball team snapped a six-game losing streak, defeating the New Hampshire Wildcats, 68-60, in Durham, N.H., Wednesday night. With the win the Black Bears improved to 4-16 overall and 2-6 in conference while UNH dropped to 5-16 and 3-5 overall.
Pollard was one of three Black Bears to record double-figure point totals as he shot 7-of-16 from the field and took down five rebounds. Meanwhile the Black Bears were also bolstered by the offensive additions of Till Gloger (10 pts) and Ethan Mackey (12 pts).
Meanwhile the dangerous Chris Pelcher was held in check for the Wildcats scoring just 13 points and taking down nine rebounds as he paced the UNH offense.
Maine won the rebounding battle for just the third time this season taking down 39 rebounds to the Wildcats' 38, while the team shot a 41 percent for the game, edging UNH who shot 40 percent.
Pollard got Maine on the board in the first minute with a jumper and followed it up with a slick pass to Mackey in the paint as Maine jumped ahead 4-0, forcing a UNH timeout with 18:38 left in the half.
UNH took its first lead of the game coming out of the under 16:00 media timeout media timeout as Frank Okeke drained a trey to make it 9-8 with 15:35 left in the frame.
With the game tied at 11-11, Pollard drained his first trey of the game as he gave Maine a 14-11 lead with 13:03 left in the half. Troy Reid-Knight followed that up with a 3-pointer of his own, while Garet Beal on the very next possession came in one-on-one with a defender, laid in a bucket and was fouled on the play. Coming out of the media timeout Beal drained the ensuing free throw and completed the three-point play making it 19-11.
Maine continued its strong first half forcing a Pelcher turnover with under 11:00 minutes to play as Pollard took a pass up court and laid in his third bucket of the day and forced a Wildcats timeout with just under 11:00 minutes remaining in the half, as Maine lead 23-13.
Scott Morris cut into the Maine lead with a trey at the 9:02 mark to make it 23-16 but Reid-Knight answered back on the next play with a basket of his own to make it 25-16.
UNH began to narrow the gap a bit as the squad edged Maine on a 12-6 run headed into the final media timeout of the half, sparked by the play of Pelcher.
A turnover by Lawton stolen by Tommy McDonnell, broke Jordon Bronner on a fastbreak as he made it a one-point game, 31-30 with 3:04 left in the half.
With the game 33-32, Mackey gave the Black Bears more breathing room, taking a pass in the paint and laying in his fourth bucket of the game to give Maine a 35-32 lead.
A late trey by Okeke knotted the game up at 35-35 in the final minute and the Black Bears were unable to respond as the two squads headed to halftime with the tied score.
Maine shot an impressive 57.1 percent with Ethan Mackey, Xavier Pollard and Till Gloger all tallying eight points in the first frame to pace the offense.
Pelcher came on as the half ticked down and ended the half with 10 points to lead the Wildcat offense, which shot 46 percent in the frame.
The Black Bears were on the right side of the rebound column, taking down 17 while New Hampshire recorded 12. Maine was plagued by turnovers in the first half as they turned it over 11 times to the eight given away by UNH.
New Hampshire opened the scoring in the second half to take the lead as Dion hit a jumper at the 18:13 point but Zarko Vajarevic answered back on the next possession with his first bucket to tie it back at 37-37.
The Wildcats got it out to a 41-38 lead before a Gloger jumper made it a one-point game headed into the under 16:00 minute media timeout. The basket ensured that Gloger hit double-figure points for the fourth-consecutive time this season.
Several possession following the media break Pirovic found some space at the top of the key and drained his first trey of the game and gave the Black Bears their first lead of the game, 43-41 with 13:53 left in the half.
Jacoby Armstrong knotted things up at 45-45 shortly thereafter as he made a layup at the 12:59 mark of the second half and Pollard dashed into the paint several possessions later, laying in a bucket and retaking the Black Bear lead, 47-45 with 11:57 mark.
The teams traded leads throughout much of half until Maine began to pull away going on a 9-5 run, forcing a UNH timeout at the 8:19 mark with the score 56-50, Black Bears.
Pollard helped the Black Bear lead as he rushed into the paint, laid in a bucket, was fouled and completed the three-point play from the stripe as Maine took a 63-54 lead with 4:48 left in the game.
The Black Bears were able to run precious seconds off the clock in the final minute, up 64-56 as they got the clock down 48 seconds before Pollard was fouled and connected on the ensuing free throws to make 66-56.
The Black Bears held on the rest of the way as the team prevailed, 68-60. Maine won its first conference game since it opened against Binghamton on Jan. 4.
Maine now heads home to the Cross Insurance Center to host the UMBC Retrievers on Saturday, looking for revenge from its loss in Baltimore, Md., earlier this year. The time of the game is slated for 2 p.m.