UVM men’s basketball takes one on the chin

Entering Tuesday night’s highly anticipated game against Maine, the Vermont men’s basketball team had to feel confident playing in their own building. The Catamounts had won their first eight games at home this year and, counting last season, had a 16-game home winning streak.

The last team to beat Vermont at home was a strong Stony Brook squad from the 2009-2010 season; and it was two days shy of a year ago. If that wasn’t enough, Maine had not beaten Vermont in Patrick Gym in exactly four years.

Both streaks came to an end Tuesday night as Maine handed Vermont a convincing 72-58 loss.

The Black Bears, who improve to 11-7 (5-1), never trailed in the game and controlled both ends of the floor for the majority of the night.

“I thought they really exposed our weaknesses,” Vermont head coach Mike Lonergan said. “They really exposed our point guards and we couldn’t stay between them and the basket.”

The matchup at point guard was dominated by Maine on both ends of the floor throughout the night. Vermont’s duo of Joey Accaoui and Simeon Marsalis combined for 14 points and zero assists, while Maine’s duo of Andrew Rodgers and Raheem Singleton combined for 22 points and five assists.

More importantly, Singleton and Rodgers were able to penetrate into the heart of the Catamount defense for the majority of the night, which led to easy baskets for the rest of Maine’s scorers.

“That Singleton kid really outplayed us,” Lonergan said. “Once again when your point guards combine for zero assists … it’s hard to win without a quarterback out there, running the offense and getting good shots for people.”

As in all of the league games this year, the Catamounts got off to a cold start shooting the basketball, making just 8-26 field goals — 30.8 percent — in the first half. Maine held leads of 22-11 and 37-28 before Vermont cut the lead to 39-37 with 13:43 to go in the second half. Nonetheless, Vermont wasn’t able to capture a lead from the Black Bears for the duration of the night.

Evan Fjeld led Vermont with 18 points and 10 rebounds — his third double-double of the year — and Matt Glass and Accaoui added 11 and 14 points respectively.

Despite the scoring numbers for Glass and Accaoui, Lonergan pointed to a lack of production from them, and others, as a key reason for their difficulties.

“Matt has to get on the boards, you know, 24 minutes no rebounds. Joey is getting outplayed by Raheem Singleton so, points are very misleading,” Lonergan said. “You know its just frustrating because I thought a lot of guys came up weak. Our bench gave us nothing; first half no rebounds, and the second half, Garret [Kissell] had two rebounds. So in all our bench minutes we had two rebounds and not a whole lot of production.”