UMass Lowell and Hartford staged one of that knockdown drag-out, hard-fought games. This one would be decided in the paint as both teams took the ball to the basket any chance they got. On Saturday afternoon the Riverhawks big men were just a little bit better in the paint than the Hawks were. It would pay off to the tune of a 71-62 victory over Hartford. For Lowell (4-7, 3-4 in AE), the win was their second in a row at home in conference play. It set them up rather nicely to have a winning homestand when the two teams meet again on Sunday afternoon.
There was plenty of good news to go around for Lowell. First, they welcomed sophomore forward, Connor Withers (20 points, nine rebounds), back to the starting lineup after missing last weekend’s set of games vs NJIT. Sophomore guard Ron Mitchell also returned after missing last Sunday’s game. Having the team at full strength for these two games against the Hawks may have been the best news of all. So was the way that Lowell started the game. An 8-3 run with Withers dropping a three ball and some inside work from Salif Boudie (19 points, four rebounds) had the Riverhawks heading in the right direction from the opening tip. Hartford countered with their own inside muscle. Hunter Marks (11 points) got a dunk that was followed by a D.J. Mitchell three-ball off a Marks assists. It was 9-8 Lowell almost four minutes into the game.
A 6-0 run by the home team gave them some breathing room at 19-12 with thirteen minutes left in the first half. Layups by Boudie, Withers, and Bryce Daley did the trick. Hartford closed the gap to 25-23 on a Michael Dunne three with eight minutes to play. Lowell would take their biggest lead of the half on a Boudie layup at 34-27 with three minutes to go. Hartford then went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 34-34. They got baskets from Miroslaw Stafl (16 points before fouling out in second half), Austin Williams (14 Points), and a three from Mitchell. Boudie would give the Riverhawks the lead going into the break with a mid-range jumper. At the half, it was 36-34 Lowell.
The home team started the second half by missing some point blank shots. Their first three were makeable shots that just didn’t fall. It allowed the Hawks to tie the game once again at 36-36 on a Marks layup in the paint. The Hawks took their first lead of the game on a bucket by Stafl, 38-36 Hartford. After a Lowell basket tied the game again, Marks was fouled shooting a three. He would make all of his free throws to give his team their largest lead of the afternoon at 41-38 with 17:44 to play. The Riverhawks went on another 6-0 run to retake the lead at 45-43 before Hartford took the lead back on a Mitchell three, 46-45 with fourteen minutes to play. A Williams three-point play would give the Hawks a 49-47 lead with twelve minutes to go. It would be Hartford’s last lead of the game.
A Noel jumper tie the game at 49-49. After a Withers hoop gave Lowell the lead back, Stafl tied the game again at 51-51 with a layup. The teams then traded hoops for a tie at 53-53 with six minutes to go. A 7-3 run by the Riverhawks looked to give them some space at 60-56 with four to go. But Traci Carter, who had been quiet most of the day, knocked down a three to bring his team to within one at 60-59 with four to go. Lowell put the game away with a 7-0 run aided by Withers who had all seven points. It gave the Riverhawks a lead they never would give up. A good day for the home team getting a well earned 71-62 victory over Hartford (7-5,4-3 in AE).
UMass Lowell won this game by going to the basket and drawing fouls. Two members of the Hawks would foul out. Lowell was 18-25 from the line while also scoring 42 of their 71 points in the paint. On the defensive end, five blocked shots were credited to the Riverhawks. Sunday afternoon, UMass Lowell will go for three in a row at 1 PM.
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