AMHERST, Mass. – Senior Allin Blunt (Crownsville, Md.) paced four double-digit scorers with a career-high 18 points, as the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s basketball team (4-2) fell, 92-81, at Massachusetts (3-4) in the finale of a five-game road swing on Wednesday.
Despite trailing by 24 early in the second half, the River Hawks battled back to within eight in the final two minutes, but free throws would help seal the decision for the home team.
“This was a bit of a disappointing loss,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “I give UMass credit. I thought that we never really felt comfortable offensively. Some of that was because of the decisions we made and some of it was because of their press. Typically, we do well against pressure and invite it, but today, I thought we were tentative and that’s the worst thing you can do against pressure. That really hurt us on offense in the first half.”
Blunt went 4-for-8 from deep in the contest, marking another personal best. Junior Kalil Thomas (New Orleans, La.) added 14 points on the night, while junior Gregory Hammond (New Orleans, La.) set a career mark with 11. Senior Everette Hammond (Silver Spring, Md.) rounded out the double-digit point scorers with 10. Graduate student Justin Faison (Prince George’s County, Md.) totaled six rebounds.
The teams traded baskets right from the start and fought through 16 lead changes in the first 16 minutes, as neither side was able to take more than a one-possession advantage. Sophomore Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.) led the way during that stretch with three straight dunks en route to eight early points.
Sophomore Ayinde Hikim (Washington, D.C.) made a great pass under the hoop to Blunt for the finish that gave the River Hawks a 24-23 advantage with just under four minutes remaining in the first half, but the Minutemen offense ignited to close the period on a 14-3 run and take a 37-27 buffer into the break.
Coming out of halftime, the home team continued to attack with the first 13 points of the second before Blunt broke up the streak with a three-ball from the corner to make the score 50-30 with 15:41 still to go.
Gregory Hammond checked into the game less than two minutes later and provided an offensive spark, helping himself to seven quick points during a stretch of 12 unanswered for the River Hawks that cut the difference to 56-44 at 13:12.
The Minutemen maintained at least a 10-point margin until Thomas knocked down a triple to open up a 14-4 River Hawk run that put the visitors within eight, 85-77, inside of the final two minutes.
After five straight games away from home, the River Hawks will finally return to Costello Athletic Center on Saturday, November 27 at 1 p.m.
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