The America East is a Hot, Hot Mess
Another week(end), another parity filled group of games. We had a total of eight America East games this past weekend and outside of Hartford, no other America East team was able to complete a weekend sweep. Maine and New Hampshire, NJIT and UMass-Lowell and of course Vermont and Albany all split the pair.
I donâ€™t know how many times I can say this, but itâ€™s a weird year in college basketball. Kentucky is 2-6, Drake is 13-0 and Vermont has their most conference losses (3) since the 2015-16 season. Weâ€™ve already examined Vermontâ€™s latest match-up with Albany, so letâ€™s dive into these other contests and see who stood out and where everything stands heading into week four.
Maine Black Bears vs New Hampshire Wildcats
Last week we saw Binghamton knock off top dogs UMBC and now this week we have Maine defeating top America East contender New Hampshire. What a time to be alive. This game was pretty close throughout, but UNH held the lead until around the half-way mark of the second half. Maine never quite broke away, but Yagodin Mykhailo (these names are killing me) hit a pair of free-throws with 13 seconds left to ice the game for the Black Bears.
Stephane Ingo â€œMontoyaâ€ was on the search for a man with six fingers, as he told the Wildcats â€œYou killed my father. Prepare to dieâ€, dropping 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Black Bears. Vilgot Mr. Larrson chipped in another 12 for the Black Bears as even taking a nail to the head wasnâ€™t going to stop this upset from Happy Gilmoring.
Marque Mault-liquor-sby missed a game-tying three at the end of regulation, as his shot didnâ€™t quite have enough â€œold englishâ€ on it, but still led the Wildcats with 17 points. This was a tough loss for UNH, as even without the likes of Nick Guadarrama and Sean Sutherlin the Wildcats still should have found a way to beat Maine.
Sundayâ€™s match-up was another close affair, but the Wildcats came out strong in the second-half and never looked back, going up by as much 14 with four minutes left in regulation. UNH nearly blew the game though, as Maine stormed back, cutting the lead to two with 17 seconds left. Sadly it was too little, too late for the Black Bears as they ultimately fell to the Wildcats in the end.
Jayden â€œSmithâ€ Martinez might never become as good as his father once was, but his 23 points and 7 rebounds were just what the Wildcats needed despite his poor acting abilities. Qon â€œEddieâ€ Murphy added another 11 for the Wildcats, as critics agree that his â€œRawâ€ performance was the best theyâ€™ve seen out of him yet.
It was a balanced attack for Maine, but the long lost Wright brother, Jashonte Wright-Mcleish took flight and led the Black Bears with 12 points. The fact that perennial bottom-feeder Maine was nearly able to sweep America East title contender UNH raises plenty of questions. UNH has a big-time test against UMBC next week, while Maine squares up against NJIT. Weâ€™ll see if we get any sort of clarity by then.
Hartford Hawks vs Binghamton Bearcats
It feels strange to say, but this was a let-down game for the Bearcats. Coming off a huge upset win over UMBC the Bearcats looked like they finally had some momentum on their side. Add in the fact that Hartford was reeling off back-to-back losses to UNH and this was the perfect time for Binghamton to make a run. Well, it didnâ€™t quite work out like that. Hartford blew out Binghamton from start to finish, as this game was never in doubt for the Hawks.
Hartford had a red-hot shooting night and used a balanced attack to takedown the Bearcats. D.J. Mitchell paced the Hawks with 17 as he was spinninâ€™ and laying down the hottest beats all game. Austin Will.I.Am(s) chipped in another 12 as he had a feelin that tonight was gonna be a good night even though it left the Bearcats asking where is the love?
Tyler Bertram â€œGrover Weeksâ€ led the way for the Bearcats with 16, but couldnâ€™t defeat the beast that was Hartford, as he slowly sulked back to the Sandlot. Tough, tough game for the Bearcats. Every year they seem to be just frisky enough where you could see them making a run, but ultimately fall back to their underwhelming-selfs.
Another game that absolutely stings if you’re a Binghamton fan (sorry Tony Kornheiser). The Bearcats had a huge first-half, but could never quite break away from the Hawks in the second-half. They stretched their lead to as much as eight, but couldnâ€™t capitalize any further. Of course in Binghamton fashion they had a chance to win the game with the game tied in the closing seconds, but Dan Petcash turned the ball over with 6 seconds remaining and Hartfordâ€™s Austin Williams nailed the game-winning three at the buzzer.
Again, it was a balanced attack for the Hawks as six(!) players would hit the double-figure mark. Austin â€œEnrique Iglesiasâ€ Williams said I can be your hero, baby, as he led the Hawks with 16 points including the buzzer-beating three-pointer to win the game. Traci â€œChapmanâ€ Carter added another 15 for the Hawks, as the team piled into his fast car, telling them I got a plan to get us out of here.
Brenton â€œDetective Davidâ€ Mills led Binghamton with 21, but when he asked Hartford what was in the box he never expected to see two heart-breaking losses. Oof. Heart-breaking indeed. Binghamton has some great young talent and thereâ€™s still time for them to figure it out, but hopefully thatâ€™ll happen in two weeks, as the Bearcats have to host Vermont this weekend and the Catamounts need to get into a rhythm.
NJIT Highlanders vs UMass-Lowell River Hawks
Obadiah Noel vs Zach Cooks. NJIT and UML are literally the same team. Classic Spider-man meme. The Highlanders got off to a hot start and carried that over to the second-half as well, stretching their lead up to 16 before the River Hawks finally came alive. UML cut the lead to five with just over a minute left, but NJIT hit their free-throws and held on to beat the River Hawks in the end.
San Antonio Brinson gave an impromptu history lesson to UMass-Lowell who now will forever remember the Alamo, as Brinson dropped 25 points to lead the way for the Highlanders. Dylan Oâ€™Hearn pondered who the five best complimentary players of all time are (Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan and Dylan), as he
spit shot that hot fire all game chipping in an additional 15 points for the Highlanders.
Obadiah Noel â€œGallagherâ€ was his usual self pouring 26 points for the River Hawks, but when asked if he would ever stop singing Wonderwall his response was â€œMaybeeeeeeeâ€. Again, these two teams are built in nearly identical fashion. The only difference was that Cooks supporting cast stepped up, while Noelâ€™s had another lackluster outing.
For about 30 minutes this was an extremely tight affair. But then the final ten minutes happened. The River Hawks got hot at the perfect time, jumping out to a big lead that seemingly kept growing as the time and game quickly trickled away from NJIT. Game one saw Cooks supporting cast takeover, while game two was all about Noelâ€™s teammates finally stepping up to the challenge.
The River Hawks used a balanced attack as four players reached double-figures, but it was the play of Salif Boudie (Boaty?) who led the way 18 points and 12 boards, as he called out Blake Bortles saying thereâ€™s a new BOAT in town. Gregory â€œPeckâ€ Hammond added another 18 for the River Hawks as he helped kill the mockingbird known as the NJIT Highlanders.
Antwuan â€œGerardâ€ Butler led the Highlanders with 15 points, but for as good as that performance was he really isnâ€™t suited for a leading role – I mean seriously, have you seen this guyâ€™s body of work? NJIT didnâ€™t pull away in game one like the River Hawks were able to in this one, but for the most part these were pretty similar games. Two maybe middle-of-the-pack teams squaring off? I guess thatâ€™s kind of exciting.