BANGOR, Maine – Behind a team-leading 18 points scored from senior Allin Blunt (Crownsville, Md.) and an impressive 51.1 percent shooting from the field overall as a unit, the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s basketball team (11-9, 3-5 AE) took down the Maine Black Bears, 62-50, Wednesday night.
The River Hawks snatched the lead early in the contest and never looked back. UMass Lowell led by as many as 15 points and answered every push made by the home team, prohibiting any opportunity for the opposition to close the gap.
“It was a great road win for us tonight that was spearheaded by our defense,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “Credit goes to Maine, though. They just would not go away and really made us earn that victory.”
Sophomore Ayinde Hikim (Washington D.C.) was a key force in the River Hawks’ ability to spread the ball around the court, tallying eight assists, while picking up three steals. Also making his presence felt was sophomore forward Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.), who swatted five blocks and grabbed seven rebounds.
Hikim played a role right out of the gate, as he was involved in each of the squad’s scoring plays in the opening four minutes, including an exciting, alley-oop to Brooks that put UMass Lowell up, 9-5. Maine responded with a brief run, thanks to a quick five points by Maks Klanjscek to nearly draw things even, but the River Hawks used perfect shooting from Blunt for eight straight points to pull away, 23-12, with 10:25 remaining in the first.
The visitors shot over 48 percent from the field in the first en route to stretching the lead as far as 32-17 on a bucket from the paint by Brooks at 4:27.
Although sophomore Quinton Mincey (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Hikim converted on chances at the foul line early in the second half, the Black Bears used a 6-1 spurt to cut the difference to 41-34 with 12:20 still to go. However, a kick-out pass by Blunt from the elbow found junior Kalil Thomas (New Orleans, La.) waiting beyond the arc to sink the uncontested three and regain a double-digit lead.
The Black Bears were back within eight on their next possession, but senior Everette Hammond (Silver Spring, Md.) and graduate student John Hall (Philadelphia, Pa.) scored back-to-back buckets to establish a double-digit margin the River Hawks would maintain the rest of the way in the road win.
UMass Lowell returns home for the next two matchups, including a battle with the Vermont Catamounts on Saturday, February 5, at 1 p.m. for the America East Spread Respect Game.
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