The University of Maine men’s basketball team snapped its long losing streak, defeating Binghamton handedly 78-57, giving head coach Chris Markwood his first-career America East victory.
Gedi Juozapaitis scored 21 points on Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor to lead the Black Bears and Peter Filipovity came back from injury and added in 12 points of his own.
After the game outside of the locker room, Juozapaitis walked by Filipovity and said
“Screw the interview, just say ‘he’s back’ like MJ did.” It was a reference to Michael Jordan’s “I’m back” press release when the Chicago Bulls star returned to the team in the 1995 NBA season.
Filipovity tore the tendon off his pinky finger bone against New Jersey Institute of Technology on Jan. 8 after just a few minutes of play and has been out until Sunday. On Sunday, he was back.
Filipovity said he brings energy to the team and he proved it in the second half. With 7:36 left the forward made a spin into the lane and made an up-and-under layup to give UMaine a 62-42 lead. A couple possessions later, Filipovity drilled a 3-pointer in the left corner to keep the lead at 20 points. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“It was great,” Filipovity said. “It was just joyful being back on the court. I did what I do, brought energy, played hard and I am really happy with the win.”
Kellen Tynes, UMaine’s star guard, said the team calls Filipovity “The Walking Double-Double.”
“He helps a lot,” Tynes added. “He goes to the glass and he’s aggressive and he’s starting to play good defense and we are super happy to have him back. We all love that guy.”
Tynes was a major part of UMaine snapping an eight-game losing streak on Sunday, stealing the ball six times to help the Black Bears force Binghamton into 19 turnovers.
“Communication has been a big thing for us and I think we rebounded the ball pretty well today,” Tynes said. “I don’t think they had many offensive rebounds. I think we did a great job of protecting the paint and they have one of the better guards in the league in (Jacob) Falko and we held him to zero field goals today.”
Binghamton’s star guard was held to 0-4 shooting from the field, scoring all four of his points from the free throw line. Falko also turned the ball over six times.
At the beginning of the game, Binghamton and UMaine were tied at 7-7 before the Black Bears went on a 16-2 run and suddenly led 23-8 with just-under 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Bearcats turned the ball over 12 times in the opening 20 minutes and trailed 36-25 at the half.
Markwood credited an emotional practice on Saturday for the energy the Black Bears brought on Sunday.
“I think the guys were a little bit fed up,” Markwood said. “We had a really hard practice yesterday, probably harder than we would have liked to go given the stretch that we’re in, but we had to get back to basics. We got after it on the defensive end and we got Peter back, who is one of our most consistent guys all year. I also thought the collective mindset and collective effort was at a high level today.”
“They’re a tremendous group of young men and I wouldn’t expect them to react in any other way. They keep fighting and hopefully we can get this all turned around.”
Tynes called Saturday’s practice “one of our best” and the effort from UMaine was apparent.
“The only difference was we played the right way all 40 minutes,” Filipovity said. “In the previous games we played the right way for only 20 or 30 minutes. We played 40 minutes as coach Markwood asked us to.”
Dan Petcash led the Bearcats with 13 points.
Tynes added 14 points for the Black Bears as well as seven assists and just one turnover.
UMaine will host the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Center.