UMass looks for early gift today vs. Maine

  • Malik Hines and the UMass men’s basketball team will try to go into the holiday break on a positive note when they host Maine today at 4 at the Mullins Center. Recorder file photo

For The Recorder
Thursday, December 21, 2017

AMHERST — After a frustrating result Wednesday, UMass will try to finish its non-conference slate with a victory and head home for Christmas on a happy note when it hosts Maine today at 4 p.m.

“We have to finish out Friday against Maine with a W and go into conference with confidence,” sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins said.

Both teams will have a short turnaround as both played Wednesday. In his postgame press conference after the Georgia State loss, UMass coach Matt McCall was getting ready to dive into Black Bear prep.

“I need to watch the film, clean up what we did in this game a prepare to play against a good team on Friday and close this nonconference slate out the right way,” he said. “We have an opportunity to do that.

“Should we have more nonconference wins? Maybe,” McCall continued. “But this is all part of the process. We’re playing this extremely challenging schedule with a limited amount of guys and they’ve fought. There were things we could have done better that we’ll get corrected for the next game and finish this thing out the right way.”

The early start will allow some players the option of either getting on the road earlier if they’re driving home or catching late flights home for the holiday.

Maine (3-10) arrived in Amherst after an 84-57 loss at Central Connecticut Wednesday. The record is a little misleading as the Black Bears have just one Division I win. They beat Quinnipiac just days before those same Bobcats stunned UMass (6-6). Maine’s other wins are over Maine-Machias and Maine-Presque Isle.

Against Division I opponents Maine has been outscored by an average of 75.1 to 61.1.

Aaron Calixte, a redshirt junior from Stoughton, leads Maine with 15.1 points per game. The 5-foot-11 guard is the team’s top 3-point shooter at 39.0 percent. He’s scored in double figures in all but one game this season.

Isaiah White, a 6-6 junior college transfer guard who’d played previously at UNC-Asheville, is expected to be a contributor. He’s battled injuries all year, but had 21 points against Saint Joseph’s and is shooting 8-for-16 from 3-point range in his five games. White had just two points in 21 inutes in Wednesday’s loss.