The first weekend of conference play in America East is now in the books. UMass Lowell, Albany, Stony Brook, and Hartford earned wins. The River Hawks and Seawolves get wins on the road, while Hartford and Albany held home court. The last seven conference champions started their run to the title by winning their opening game. Vermont will get started on Wednesday when they play host to Stony Brook. Here is how the first weekend went in the America East.
The Player of the Week is River Hawks junior Obadiah Noel. He had a career-high 27 points and four rebounds in the team’s overtime win at Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday. He would score 25 of those points in the second half and the overtime session. This is the second weekly award of the season for Noel, the other award came back on December 2. It is also the second of his career. The Rookie of the Week is Hartford Hawks Moses Flowers who also reached a career-high in points with 28 on 10-of-13 shooting in their win over New Hampshire. In two games last week, Flowers averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. This is Flowers’s second career award with the other one taking place on December 9.
In the River Hawks 86-73 win at UMBC, they would place four players in double-figures with one of those being graduate senior, Josh Gantz, who returned to the lineup after missing a couple of games with a lower-body injury. Free throws by Gantz and Noel gave Lowell a three point lead with just seconds left in the game. But the Retrievers played beat the clock with their last chance as K.J. Jackson knocked down a game-tying three to send the game to an extra five minute period. The River Hawks responded in the extra-time with a 10-4 run to begin the overtime on their way to outscoring UMBC by a 20-7 margin to claim the victory on the road.
In Hartford 61-52 win over The Wildcats, Flowers would be the only Hawks player who finished in double-figures. Hartford only got one point off the bench. But they did get 28 points in the paint and 15 points off of 12 New Hampshire turnovers. The Hawks defense was also good as they held the Wildcats to 29% shooting from the field (20-of-69) and 15.4% from three (6-of-39). The game was tied at 27-27 at the half, but Hartford outscored the Cats 34-25 in the second half. UNH did have two players in double-figures in Sean Sutherlin with 17 and Nick Guadarrama with 13 points.
In Albany’s 74-62 win over Binghamton, Albany had three players in double-digits in scoring. Two of them were starters in Cameron Healy with 17 points in 25 minutes and Ahmad Clark with 16. Albany got 19 points off the bench with 10 of them from Antonio Rizzuto. They took advantage of some loose ball-handling by the home team as Albany scored 15 points off of 12 turnovers. In fact, Binghamton had only four assists on 21 made field goals and no bench scoring. Albany had 12 assists on 26 field goal makes.
Stony Brook took to the road as they headed to Maine to begin play on Sunday. The 73-52 win was paced by four of the five starters being in double-figures for the game. Stony Brook was very good from the foul line converting 10-of-12 for 83%. As is the case in a couple of other wins on opening weekend, turnovers were a key to victory. The Seawolves scored 31 points off of 22 Maine turnovers. Makale Foreman led the way with a game-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting with six of those field goals coming from three-point range. The Black Bears had a hard time putting the ball in the basket shooting just 35% from the field (19-of-54) and just 20% from distance (5-of-24). Maine had only one player with double-digits in scoring and that was Nedeljko Prijovic with 17, however, he was only 2-of-10 from three.
That’s how the first weekend of play went. More from America East next week.