America East Conference

Sacred Heart stops Umass Lowell win streak at five

Sacred Heart put a stop to the River Hawks winning streak.

Back on November 12, when UMass Lowell began their six-game homestand, Head Coach Pat Duquette thought it was important for his team to create a home-court advantage. After a 5-1 record on their home floor, that has been done.  Wednesday night saw a Sacred Heart team come to Lowell, and use their size to help them pick up a well-earned road win 87 to 80 over the River Hawks.

The story of this game was played out on the blocks as the Pioneers got a combined 38 points and 18 rebounds from their bigs.  Joseph Lopez notched his third double-double of the season (20 points and 13 rebounds). He and his fellow big man, Mario Matasovic (18 points, 5 boards), were a problem for the River Hawks all night. It did not help matters that UMass Lowell did not shoot the ball well in this game. They were only 6 of 22 (27%), and 1 for 11 (9%) in the second half from three-point land. As the coach said afterward, Sacred Heart played hard and well. He would continue by saying “we need to shoot the ball better”.

The first four minutes of the game were not an indication of how things were going to turn out on this night, the River Hawks came out smoking hot hitting five of their first six shots. Matt Harris (game-high 23 points), and Jahad Thomas (22 points before leaving the game with an apparent ankle injury) scored 10 of the team first 14 points, the River Hawks had an early 14 to 5 advantage.

UMass Lowell would stretch the lead to double-digits. 20-10 nearing the halfway point of the first half. Sacred Heart then went on a run of 11-0 to take their first lead of the night at 21 to 20, Lopez had seven of those points.

A six nothing spurt by the home team pushed the lead back to seven at 37-30 late in the half. The Pioneers ended the half on a 6-2 run backed by a three-point play from De’von Barnett and the every present Mr. Lopez with a hoop. The score at the break was 39 to 35 River Hawks.

In the second half, it was Sacred Heart that got off to the fast start. An 8-2 beginning to the half gave them a 47 to 41 lead with 15:10 to play in the ballgame. They would increase the lead to nine on a three-ball by Kinnon Larose, 50 to 41 visitors.

Thomas would try to take the game over for UMass Lowell connecting on three straight shots for six points total to cut the deficit to three at 50 to 47 with 12:40 to play. Sacred Heart’s junior guard Sean Hoehn (18 points), would return the favor by knocking down six straight points himself, pushing the lead back to seven at 56 to 49 with 9:27 left.

After the River Hawks would cut the lead to three at 60 to 57, the Pioneers would bump it to it largest of the night at 13, 75-62 on a Lopez layup. UMass Lowell would take one more shot at stealing this one. An eight-point run with Connor Bennett scoring four off the River Hawks bench brought the lead down to five at 75 to 70 with 1:02 left.

The Pioneers foul shooting in the final minute was excellent as they would hit 10 fouls shots to seal the win with Zach Radz hitting six of those on his way to a 13 point night. Final score from Costello, Sacred Heart 87 Umass Lowell 80.

With the win, the Pioneers improved to 3-4 and the River Hawks drop to 5-2, as they begin a three-game road trip on Sunday at NJIT. When asked about the upcoming road trip, River Hawks guard Rinardo Perry (12 points) thought this would be an important trip to regain focus.
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