The Maine men's basketball team heads down the home stretch for its second-to-last road contest on Saturday afternoon, as the squad heads to Albany, N.Y. to take on the Great Danes. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be the final game on the Black Bears schedule that will be featured on ESPN3.
LAST TIME OUT
Freshman Garet Beal set a new career-high in points, as he posted an impressive second half, but it wasn't enough as the Hartford Hawks downed the Maine men's basketball team, 91-79 at the Cross Insurance Center, Wednesday night. The loss drops Maine to 5-19 and 3-9 in conference meanwhile Hartford improved to 12-14 and 6-5 in America East play.
Beal scored 16 second-half points after tallying two in the first frame, shooting 4-of-6 in the second half. Beal played in just two minutes in the opening stanza but the first-year player took control in the contest, playing nearly the entire second half.
Beal finished the day with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists. The Beal's Island native paced the Black Bears offense while Zarko Valjarevic chipped in 16 points with Xavier Pollard and Till Gloger adding 12 apiece.
As a team the Black Bears shot over 50 percent, recording a 52-percent mark from the field and outrebounded Hartford 31-23. However turnovers and allowing long-range baskets plagued the Black Bears, turning it over 18 times for the game while allowing the Hawks to shoot 54 percent from beyond the arc.
Two players paced the Hawks as Evan Cooper and Taylor Dyson both had 16 points. Hartford had three other players register double-figure points as Mark Nwakamma had 15, Wes Cole had 12 and Nate Sikma poured in 10.
SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES
The Great Danes enter the contest this weekend looking to snap a two-game losing streak after falling to both Hartford on Feb. 8 (67-54) and UMBC on Feb. 12 (71-69). Albany has had mixed success in conference so far this year posting a 6-6 record and, like the Black Bears, haven't posted back-to-back wins more than once this season.
Peter Hooley, who averages 14.8 points, paces Albany, while three others Great Danes average double-figure points as Rowley averages 11.4, Gary Johnson 10.9 and DJ Evans posts 10.8 per contest. Rowley is the primary rebounder for the team; averaging 6.7 boards per contest while Hooley and Evans dish out the ball at a near-even pace with 66 assists and 68 assists, respectively.
Great Danes average 65 points per game while allowing opponents just over that, at 65.5 points per contest.
SERIES HISTORY WITH ALBANY
These two teams get ready for the 17th meeting between these two squads. Albany leads 14-12 in the series while having won seven of the last 11 games. In their last meeting at Memorial Gym this season Gary Johnson and Peter Hooley paced the Great Danes offense scoring 28 and 19 points, respectively. Voorheesville, N.Y. native, Ethan Mackey had a career game as well posting 24 points and seven rebounds as the Black Bears fell 85-78.
The Black Bears snapped a four-game losing skid against the Great Danes on Feb. 9, 2013 in Orono, Maine, defeating Albany, 66-52.
RANKING THE BLACK BEARS (As of Feb. 9)
• Shaun Lawton is now ranked 52nd in the nation in steals per game with a 1.97 mark.
• Lawton is ranked 66th in the country in total steals with 43.
• Lawton is also ranked 116th in assists per game averaging 4.3.
• Zarko Valjarevic is nationally ranked in most 3-point categories:
• 3-pointers per game – 78st (2.48)
• Total 3-pointers made – 83rd (57)
• Maine is now 47th in the country in steals per game with 7.6 per contest.
• Maine is 69th in the country in the assists per game category with 14.4.
• Black Bears are 67th in Division I basketball in total steals with 175.
America East Rankings
• Maine is the No. 1 in scoring offense in the conference with 72.7 points per game.
• Lawton is both 2nd in the AE in assists per game (4.3) and first in steals per contest (1.9).
• Valjarevic is the conference's deadliest 3-point shooter ranking second in 3-pointers per game, and 3-pointers made.
Team Quick Hit Rankings:
• 1st in assists per game (14.4)
• 1st in total assists (331)
• 2nd in steals per game (7.6)
• 2nd in total steals (175)
• 3rd 3-point field goals per game (6.7)
• 3rd in assist turnover ratio (0.98)
The Black Bears will be featured on ESPN3 for a national broadcast versus Albany on Saturday. The game starts at 2 p.m. and can be viewed on the Internet at ESPN3.com. Maine is 0-1 when playing on ESPN3 this season with its only other national broadcast coming against the UCONN Huskies on Dec. 6 in Hartford, Conn.
Black Bear fans should keep their eyes on Ethan Mackey on Saturday afternoon. Mackey has worked his way into the starting line up and should have some added motivation for the team's second-contest against the Great Danes. Mackey, a Voorheesville, N.Y., native grew up less than a half hour away from Albany and will have a myriad of friends and family coming to support him. Earlier in the year Mackey posted a career-high 24 points against the team he used to watch, while he added seven rebounds in the contest.
While junior Xavier Pollard reached the 500 point plateau earlier this year, Zarko Valjarevic, Maine's deadliest 3-point shooter, is just 25 away from 500 career points with four games remaining. Valjarevic currently averages 11.5 points per game so if he stays healthy he has a shot to hit that mark this year. So far he has scored a career-high.