NEWARK, N.J. – Junior Obadiah Noel (Frederick, Md.) logged 16 points, as the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s basketball team (6-6) pulled out another close decision, this time by a score of 72-66 at NJIT (2-8) on Wednesday evening.
“Anytime you can get a road win, that says a lot about your team,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “This was another hard-fought game. It’s hard to win on the road in a tough environment. And it’s great to win a close game. I know we haven’t been on the right side of a lot of those, so for us to win a close game, that was important for us.”
The River Hawks have now won four of their last five games to improve to .500 overall (6-6). Nine different UMass Lowell players scored in the outing, including five in double-digits. Junior Jordyn Owens (Montclair, N.J.) chipped in with 12 points and a game-high six assists, while freshman Connor Withers (Manassas, Va.) and graduate students Josh Gantz (Grove City, Ohio) and Christian Lutete (Silver Spring, Md.) added 10 points apiece.
The game was closely-contested from the start, as neither side led by more than three in the opening minutes. Sophomore Joey Glynn (Portsmouth, N.H.) provided a defensive edge off the bench for the River Hawks, coming up with a big block on a dunk attempt and taking a charge early on. NJIT was able to score eight unanswered to create its first two-possession margin at 11:18, but Owens drained a three to spark a 10-2 run that put the River Hawks ahead, 22-18, with 8:09 remaining in the first half.
The Highlanders made it a one-point game before Gantz knocked down a three, and Owens and Withers followed with points of their own to pull ahead, 29-21, at 5:00. Withers would then score the River Hawks’ final four buckets of the period to help the squad take a 37-30 advantage into the break.
Coming out of halftime, the home team worked its way back within a bucket, and although Owens and Noel added back-to-back layups, six straight NJIT points cut the difference to 44-43 with 12:23 still to play.
The River Hawks maintained the upper hand until a 9-2 spurt put NJIT on top, 52-50, at 6:33. However, Lutete converted at the line five times in the next minute and a half, putting the visitors ahead for good. A three from Gantz and a dunk by Noel then gave UMass Lowell the momentum before six free throws in the final minute secured the 72-66 win.
The all-time series between the two teams is now tied, 5-5. The River Hawks will have a 10-day break for finals before hosting Boston University on December 21 at 1 p.m.
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