Senior center Joe McCloskey of Howland scored 28 points and grabbed 15 rebounds Wednesday afternoon as the top-ranked University of Maine at Fort Kent men’s basketball team pulled away from No. 8 Dean College 76-63 in the quarterfinals of the USCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament being held at Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

The win improves coach Tom Bird’s Bengals to 23-8 on the season and advances them to a semifinal matchup against the winner of a later quarterfinal between No. 4 Illinois Tech and 5 Florida College. The semifinal is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday.

Dean College of Franklin, Massachusetts, falls to 16-11 and will play in a consolation-round game at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The UMFK-Dean quarterfinal featured eight ties and seven lead changes. UMFK held a narrow 34-31 halftime lead and Dean remained as close as 51-50 on a 3-pointer by Jack Lambert with 10 minutes left in the second half.

But UMFK was able to pull away late in the game thanks in part to a defense that forced 20 turnovers and registered 10 steals as well as McCloskey’s 15 second-half points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field.

McCloskey was one of four UMFK players to score in double figures. Rosevelt Smith Jr. had 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Travis Harlin Jr. had 15 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots and Benson Arogbo added 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

Guard Bobby Syvanthong chipped in seven assists and five steals for the Bengals.

Dayvon Russell led Dean with 14 points.

Bird named USCAA coach of year

The University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Tom Bird was named USCAA Division I men’s basketball coach of the year during ceremonies preceding the start of the organization’s national tournament this week in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Bird led the Bengals to a 22-8 regular-season record and the No. 1 seed in the eight-team USCAA Division I tourney.

Two UMFK players, senior center Joe McCloskey of Howland and senior guard Rosevelt Smith Jr., were named second-team USCAA Division I All-Americans.

Among other USCAA basketball players earning postseason honors, former Washburn District High School standout Carmen Bragg, now at the University of Maine at Augusta, was named Division II women’s basketball student-athlete of the year.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...