BARRINGTON, RHODE ISLAND/Fort Kent - The University of Maine at Fort Kent Bengals men's basketball team earned a hard fought 55-54 win over USCAA Virginia University Lynchburg Dragons Sunday, Dec. 18 in a neutral-site game played at St. Andrew's School in Barrington, Rhode Island.
The Bengals (8-5) picked up their third straight win and second in two days in Rhode Island.
Sunday afternoon, the UMFK and VUL (0-11) men battled through a defensive-minded first half that ended with the Dragons holding a 17-16 edge at the break.
Captain Jeremy Thomas required five stitches after the game when a player inadvertently hit him with an elbow in the first five minutes of the first period. Despite his injury, and after UMFK Head Athletic Trainer Bradley Holabird tended the injury, Thomas returned in the second half and scored 16 of his team-high 19 points.
The game went back in forth in the second half, but the Bengals earned some breathing room down the stretch with timely buckets and big defensive plays.
Senior Adam Bouchard of Fort Kent hit a pair of threes and fellow classmate Othniel Hyliger of Sandy Point, St. Kitts provided two of his season high of five blocks in the last two minutes.
Thomas also came up with a big block on a recovery from his own turnover to take away a VUL lay-up in the final two minutes. UMFK finished the contest with a season high of 11 blocks.
Hyliger scored 12 points to go with eight boards and five rejections. Senior Manny Odugbela of Providence, Rhode Island, playing on his high school court, added 11 points and a team-best five dimes. Pablo Llamas of Leon, Spain filled the hustle and defense stat sheet with six boards, four assists, three steals and three blocks.
UMFK alumni and current St. Andrew's Head Coach and Athletic Director Mike Hart hosted the game. Hart, who once coached Odugbela, has built a successful prep program at St. Andrews, which consistently helps his players receive academic and athletic college scholarships.
Juiss Turja led VUL, scoring 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second.
The Bengals return to action January 4, 2012 when they host Houghton College in Fort Kent at 7 p.m. The Lady Bengals (1-6) are also on winter break and will return January 4 to play Houghton at 5 p.m., prior to the men's contest.