LOWELL, Mass. – Despite leading at the half, the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s basketball team (2-4, 1-1 AE) fell, 62-53, against America East foe Vermont (1-1, 1-1 AE) on Tuesday to split the weekend series.
“This was a tough, hard-fought conference game against Vermont,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “We played pretty good defense in the first half. We held them to just 22 points, which is good for us. We’re getting better in that area. We’ve been able to switch up defenses and improve, and we have a little bit more size up front. The biggest story of the night was we just never got in a rhythm offensively.”
Senior Obadiah Noel (Frederick, Md.) paced the River Hawks with 18 points in the contest. He was joined in double-figures by sophomore Ron Mitchell (Philadelphia, Pa.), who totaled 15 points. Sophomore Connor Withers match a career-best with a game-high 11 rebounds, as well.
The River Hawks won the tip and Noel opened the game with a fade-away three. The teams traded baskets in the early minutes, as UMass Lowell maintained a slight edge until the Catamounts scored four in a row to take their first lead of the afternoon, 8-7, with 13:29 remaining in the first half.
UMass Lowell regained the upper hand with a quick, 10-2 spurt that included consecutive triples from Mitchell, and although UVM worked to close the gap back to two, junior Allin Blunt (Bowie, Md.) hit a jumper and Noel converted at the line to give the River Hawks some breathing room, 21-15, at 4:55. The visitors were back within a bucket once more in the waning minutes, but Withers knocked down a three and sophomore Gregory Hammond (New Orleans, La.) added his first career points for UMass Lowell to put the home team on top, 27-22, at the break.
The Catamounts held the River Hawks without a field goal for almost eight minutes to start the second half, as the visitors used an 18-1 run to pull ahead, 40-28. Blunt broke up the spurt with a jumper before Noel and Hammond cut the difference to single-digits at 43-34 with 10:23 still to go.
Vermont maintained at least a nine-point edge until UMass Lowell scored six in a row on buckets from three different contributors, making it a seven-point game, 47-40, at 6:53. The River Hawks were back within seven once more with just over two minutes to go, but the Catamounts held on to secure the 62-53 outcome.
Next up, the River Hawks will visit Stony Brook for two games after the holiday on December 27-28.
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