COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senior Obadiah Noel (Frederick, Md.) logged a career-high 35 points, as the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team (1-1) fell, 82-72, against Illinois State (1-1) in a neutral-site contest at the Covelli Center on the campus of Ohio State on Saturday.
Noel also set a personal best with 12 field goals in the contest, while tying a career-high with four three-pointers. Sophomore Connor Withers (Manassas, Va.) totaled 11 points and a team-best nine rebounds, while classmate Darion Jordan-Thomas (Brockton, Mass.) added nine points and seven rebounds in his second game with the River Hawks.
Withers knocked down the first bucket of the contest, although the Redbirds worked to build an early, 15-7 edge in the first five minutes. Back-to-back layups by Noel and junior Allin Blunt (Bowie, Md.) would then spark a quick, 9-4 River Hawk spurt to make it a one-possession game until Illinois State responded with a 15-4 run that stretched the difference to 32-18 with 5:31 remaining in the first half.
The Redbirds pulled away by as many as 20 in the waning minutes of the period, but UMass Lowell continued to battle, scoring the final eight points before the break to cut the margin to 42-30.
ISU registered the first three baskets coming out of halftime to control the early minutes of the second half, but Noel followed with a long-range jumper and 15 of the game’s next 23 points, as an 18-5 River Hawk run closed the gap to just six, 54-48, with 13:11 to go.
UMass Lowell did not come any closer until freshman Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.) and Noel combined for six straight points and sophomore Kalil Thomas (New Orleans, La.) stepped up to hit a big-time triple that put the River Hawks within 67-63 at 4:33. However, the Redbirds were able to fend off the late attack and regain a double-digit advantage ahead of the buzzer.
The River Hawks are back in action tomorrow, Sunday, November 29, when they square off against their host for this weekend, Ohio State, at 12 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
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