By Ryan Lee, Staff Writer

UMF Men's Basketball Player #30 Nick Hilton on the court (photo courtesy of UMF Athletics)

UMF Men’s Basketball Player #30 Nick Hilton on the court (photo courtesy of UMF Athletics)

The University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) men’s basketball team defeated Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) by a score of 72 to 55 in their season’s home opener last week. The game marked the first time UMF’s men’s team played in the newly renovated Dearborn Gymnasium.

Dearborn Gymnasium was packed body to body in the bleachers, with 450 fans in attendance. The buzz from the crowd helped infuse some energy into the Beavers, who intended to make their first game on the new court a memorable one.

Ryan “Paco” Camire, sophomore forward and starter, was impressed with the turnout, “It was a great atmosphere, the best crowd I’ve been a part of since coming to UMF,” Camire said. “It was a good coming out party for the new gym.”

The first half was a defensive stalemate that ended in UMF leading 29 to 24. Although low scoring, the Beavers game plan was evident from the beginning.” It was critical to score in the paint, especially when we are struggling with perimeter shooting.” Said UMF’s head coach Dick Meader. “We wanted to go at the big guy [MMA’s 6’8” center Kyle Boucher] and hopefully get him in foul trouble. We spent time trying to get the ball inside.”

The game plan ultimately worked, as UMF outscored MMA 30 to 10 in the paint, which helped them explode for 43 second half point and a 72 to 55 point win. Junior Nick Hilton led the charge, registering a double double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Captain Uriah Forest-Bulley chipped in with 21 points, going 9 from 10 from the free throw line, helping UMF seal the win. A key to the win was going 21 of 28 from the free throw line in the second half.” Said sophomore student assistant Sam Morin.  He added the other keys to the game was using “time management when we needed it most in the second half and keeping our turnovers down to only 11.”

According to Camire, getting this first win was a great way of getting the monkey off their back. “The first win’s always the hardest one to get. It was a great way to start off the season in conference play.”

For Coach Meader, the win showed improvement for an inexperienced team still trying to find themselves. “For the most part, even though they may be juniors, it may be their first time getting extended minutes starting the game,” he said. With a youthful, new looking team, Meader stressed they just need to relax and play their game, “We just have to make shots. They are unselfish, maybe a little hesitant. I think we are becoming better at relaxing and making those shots.”

Even with these growing pains, the Beavers are optimistic as they enter the bulk of their conference schedule and head towards their ultimate goal stated Camire. “The ultimate goal is to win the NAAC championship, while representing ourselves well on and off the court.”