America East Conference

UMass Lowell Outlasts Binghampton 74-69

With two weeks left in the regular season, the UMass Lowell River Hawks need victories if playing postseason roundball is in their future. On Sunday afternoon they took a step in that direction, placing four players in double-figures. Once again they were led by senior Jahad Thomas who finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. The River Hawks picked up a 74- 69 win over Binghamton and improved to 10-16 and 4-9 in America East.

The ten wins are important as this will be the fifth straight year that UMass Lowell will finish a season with at least 10 victories. For a program that is not far removed from being a Division two team, it would appear that the River Hawks are headed in the right direction.

 

At times this was a sloppily played game as both teams would finish the first half with almost as many turnovers as made field goals. The Bearcats with 10 TO, 12 FG,  the River Hawks had seven turnovers to nine made baskets.

 

UMass Lowell did put together an 8-0 run with back to back three point treys from Obadiah Noel (12 points), and Matt Harris who struggled all day from the field. Harris who had 13 for the game, shot only 3-16 from the field, 3-11 from deep. Their baskets were followed by a Josh Gantz layup, and it was 20-11 with 9:17 left in half.

 

The lead would reach double figures on a Noel three ball, 30-20 River Hawks 4:25 until intermissions. The Bearcats immediately went on a 7-0 spurt to cut the lead to 30-27 at the half. Fard Muhammad (14 for the game), had five in this span on a layup and a three. His hoops were sandwiched around an Albert Odero layup (12), and at the break, UMass Lowell had a 30-27 advantage.

 

The second half looked like the River Hawks were going to run away and hide from the Bearcats. For eight of the final ten minutes, they had a lead of close to or above ten points. But those last two minutes is where the game got interesting.

 

It was 64-52 River Hawks with exactly two to play, Binghamton then went on a 9-3 run to trim the deficit to 67-61 with 65 seconds to play. Odero had seven of those points, including a putback of his own missed free throw.

 

After two made free throws from Noel gave the River Hawks an eight-point lead back at 69-61, the Bearcats came right back with four quick points. A layup by Muhammad and Thomas Bruce who record his ninth double-double of 11 points and 13 boards. With 48 seconds to play the River Hawks advantage was now down to four at 69-65.

 

UMass Lowell’s free throw shooting, which coming into the game was at 66%, was good when it needed to be. They hit six in the final 31 seconds when the Bearcats were forced to foul to stop the clock giving the River Hawks a home win 74-69. Its win number six on the season on their home court.

For the Bearcats, the loss was critical to their tournament hopes. They sit in last place in the league at 2-11, with only eight of the nine teams making it to the America East tournament.  The Bearcats need some wins and fast. Overall they are 11-17.

 

The River Hawks wrap up the home schedule on Wednesday night when they play host to Maine on Senior night.

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