LOWELL, Mass. – Graduate student Salif Boudie (Bamako, Mali) and sophomore Gregory Hammond (New Orleans, La.) posted 18 points apiece to lead four double-digit scorers for the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s basketball team (3-7, 2-4 AE) in a hard-fought, 74-60 victory against NJIT (3-3, 2-2 AE) on Sunday afternoon.
The scoreboard went back-and-forth early on with six lead changes and six tied scores through the first five minutes of the second half, but Hammond and redshirt-sophomore Bryce Daley (Pittsfield, Mass.) scored on consecutive possessions to give the River Hawks a lead that they held onto the rest of the way.
“We are thrilled to get a win, we haven’t had one in a while,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “But the way we played, we earned it today. Right from the start, we had a different approach. I think last night was a pivotal moment for us. We all did some soul-searching. We have a lot of guys that care in our locker room, and we did a lot of talking and just came out with a different mindset from the start. We defended from the start, held them to 60 points, and really controlled the game most of the way against a good team.”
The 18-point performances for Boudie and Hammond were good for individual season-highs. Boudie also added a career-best 14 rebounds for his first double-double with the River Hawks. Daley matched a season-high with 11 points in the contest, and senior Obadiah Noel rounded out the scorers in double figures with 10 points, in addition to a season-high nine rebounds and a career-best eight assists.
The River Hawk offense got off to a hot start, as four different players scored in the early minutes to help the team jump out to an 8-0 lead. UMass Lowell maintained at least a three-point edge in the first half of the opening period until NJIT took advantage of four free throws and a triple to erase the difference at 16-16 with 10:09 on the clock.
The teams were tied twice more, including at 23-23, before the Highlanders used a quick, 5-2 spurt to create a one-possession buffer. However, the River Hawks responded with back-to-back layups from Noel and Boudie to regain the upper hand, 29-28, at 3:43. Another lead change saw the visitors back in front once more in the final minute, but Noel knocked down a jumper from beyond the arc to give the River Hawks a 34-33 advantage at the break.
Both sides continued to battle hard in the second half with two more lead changes and two tied scored in the first five minutes. Hammond and Daley would then combine to outscore the opponent, 6-2, in less than two minutes to give the River Hawks the breathing room they needed to control the momentum at 48-44 with 13:51 still to play.
NJIT was able to pull within one on two occasions, but threes from Hammond and freshman Anthony Blunt (Bowie, Md.) helped spark a 10-4 River Hawk run, stretching the home team’s buffer to 60-52 at 9:22. The Highlanders worked their way back within five until Boudie scored nine of UMass Lowell’s next 12 points to give the squad its largest lead, 74-59, with less than two minutes to go in the win.
The River Hawks will remain at home to host Hartford for a pair of games next weekend, January 9-10.
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