DAYTON, Ohio – Graduate student Justin Faison (Prince George’s County, Md.) put up a game-high 21 points, as the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team (2-0) pulled out a hard-fought victory at Dayton in front of a ruckus crowd of over 13,000 on Saturday night.
Although the River Hawks led by as many as 11 early in the second half, the contest was a battle from start to finish with six total lead changes and four tied scores. The Flyers’ Elijah Weaver made back-to-back threes to put the home team on top for the final time with just over a minute to go, but senior Allin Blunt (Crownsville, Md.) converted at the line with 35 seconds on the clock to help secure the victory.
“This is obviously a great win for our program,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “Dayton is one of the best atmospheres in college basketball. The best part about the win was the defense we played. Justin hit some big shots for us. Allin hit two huge free throws. We executed without turning the ball over and the defense kept us in the game.”
Faison shot 50% (8-16) from the floor to lead the squad. Sophomore Ayinde Hikim (Washington, D.C.) added eight points and three assists, while senior Everette Hammond (Silver Spring, Md.) chipped in with eight points of his own and three steals.
With the win, the River Hawks have earned their first 2-0 start to a season at the Division I level, in addition to the program’s second-ever victory against an Atlantic 10 opponent.
The River Hawks started the game strong on defense, only giving up 10 points in the first 11 minutes of play. With the game tied, 10-10, with 12 minutes remaining in the first half, the River Hawks went on an 11-2 run, which was ignited by a triple from Blunt and capped off by back-to-back threes from Faison, putting UMass Lowell up, 21-12, with 5:30 left in the first half.
The River Hawk defense stayed resilient, fending off a dangerous Dayton offense and holding the Flyers to only 21 first-half points to take a seven-point lead heading into the locker room, 28-21.
The teams traded points to open the second, but sophomore Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.) and Faison would combine for six straight points to help the River Hawks build a double-digit buffer, 36-25, with 16:39 still to go.
The Flyers would not be shut down, however, launching an 11-0 run to pull in front, 48-47 with just over six minutes on the clock.
Next up, the River Hawks take on Oklahoma State on Tuesday, November 16, in their first game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.
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