BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Redshirt-senior Josh Gantz (Grove City, Ohio) and sophomore Obadiah Noel (Frederick, Md.) totaled 17 points apiece, as the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team (6-7) dropped a hard-fought, 75-69 decision at St. Francis Brooklyn (6-4) on Tuesday evening.
“I’m a little discouraged just because I thought we came out ready to play,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “We executed a good game plan in the first half, but just couldn’t make a shot. I thought we had open looks from guys that normally knock them down. At halftime, I tried not to have the guys get frustrated and we climbed right back into it. I’m really happy that our guys did that and we did it without shooting the ball well. We had a group out there that showed a lot of poise, and played together and were aggressive in a really tough environment against a good team.”
Also scoring in double figures on the night for the River Hawks were redshirt-junior Christian Lutete (Silver Spring, Md.), who posted his fifth double-double this season with 13 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, and senior Ryan Jones(Rio Rancho, N.M.) with 14 points.
Freshman Darius Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.) put the River Hawks on the board with a one-handed floater from the paint to help his squad open a 15-6 advantage in the opening seven minutes. That stretch included a pair of buckets from both Lutete and Jones, but the Terriers responded with seven of the next nine points cut the difference to 17-13 with 12:03 remaining in the first half.
The River Hawks maintained at least a two-possession margin until St. Francis took advantage of three scoreless minutes, recording 12 unanswered points to take their first lead of the night, 25-21, at 6:25. Lutete snapped the silence with the put-back layup and Gantz drove to the hoop to make it a one-point game, but the home squad closed the half on an 11-2 run to take a 36-27 edge into the break.
The Terriers drained a three for the first points of the second half, although the River Hawks responded with a 10-0 spurt that was capped off by a no-look layup and a triple from Jones, closing the gap to just two, 39-37, with 15:36 left to play. Following a long ball from SFC, Gantz would regain the momentum for his squad with five straight points to knot the score, 42-42, at 13:40.
St. Francis took the upper hand once again with another jumper from beyond the arc and pulled ahead by as many as eight on two occasions, including for the last time at 59-51 with less than nine minutes to play. However, Noel went off for seven consecutive points to make it just a one-basket difference, 61-58, at 6:34. The River Hawks were then back within striking distance after a three from Jones at 69-67, but the visitors were unable to come any closer, as the home squad converted at the foul line in the final minute to secure the 75-69 outcome.
The River Hawks will now have a 10-day break in the action for finals before hosting Loyola (Md.) on December 21 at 7 p.m.
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