Another solid week of hoops in the America East Conference. There is a tie at the top of the standings, as UMBC (13-6, 3-1) and Binghamton (7-10, 3-1) share first place for now. That’s because there are several teams right on their heels just a game back. In fact, only three games separate the top from the bottom. This league will be like this all season long so get out and see some good basketball in this conference at a gym near you. Here is what else is going on in the league.
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County is riding a four-game winning streak as they head to Lowell to see the River Hawks on Wednesday night. Shooting the three has been a staple of this team since the year began. They lead AE in three-point makes with 175 in 19 games. They average 9.2 a contest. On Monday night in a non-conference win over Hartford, the Retrievers went 10-of-22 from behind the arc in getting the win. UMBC led from start to finish winning their fourth in a row. The Retrievers have the second-best offense in the league at 77.8 points per game. They are the best free throw shooting team at 76% (228-of-313) and their opponent’s FT percentage is at 74%, also the best in the league. UMBC has the best turnover margin at 1.79 (they turn it over 194 times, opponent 228) and the best assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.50 (291 assists to 194 turnovers). The 291 assists also lead America East. Matteo Picarelli is second in 3-point FG percentage at 42% (42-of-100) and is third in FT percentage at 83% (48-of-58). Craig Beaudion leads in assists to turnover ratio at 2.6 (63 assists to 24 turnovers). This team is getting better as the year moves along.
The UMass Lowell River Hawks (15-4, 3-2) are still ranked in the mid-major Collegeinsider.com poll at #25. It was a 1-1 week which saw them handle the defending champs the Vermont Catamounts (8-10, 2-2) by fifteen 80-65 last Wednesday night. Then, they lost on the road at Binghamton on Saturday by a 66-65 score. In the Vermont win, four players finished the game in double-figures led by Allin Blunt who returned to the lineup after missing a month. He scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 4-of-7 from deep, and 2-of-2 from the line. They held Vermont to just 25% shooting from deep (4-of-16). It must be pointed out that the Catamounts were missing two key members in Finn Sullivan and TJ Hurley. However, take nothing away from the River Hawks as they were good from start to finish. Early in the second half, they built a twenty-point lead on the Catamounts. This will be a telling week for UMass Lowell as they play both UMBC on Wednesday night and then Sunday afternoon Bryant College, both at home.
The Binghamton Bearcats (7-10, 3-1) are playing some good ball of late. They are winners of three in a row, including a come-from-behind win at home vs the River Hawks on Saturday afternoon. Down five with 3:20 left, the Bearcats went on an 8-0 run to take the lead late. It would take a FT from Jacob Falko (19 points) with a second left to seal the victory. The Bearcats also had nine steals in the game. That’s a big deal for the Bearcats since they are last in steals in the league, averaging 5.12 a game. Falko is sixth in FG percentage at 49% (95-of-193) and is fifth in minutes at 33 a game. The Bearcats will look to keep their winning ways alive with road games this week at Albany (6-14, 1-4) on Wednesday and Maine (6-11, 0-4) on Sunday.
The Bryant Bulldogs (12-6, 3-2) have won their last two games. Sherif Gross-Bullock is a major reason why. He leads America East in scoring at 16.9 a game, third in 3-point makes at 2.4 a contest (43 in 18G), and eighth in FT shooting (71% 67-of-94), He is getting help from his friends. Earl Timberlake is second in rebounding at 8.4 a game, tenth in scoring at 14 a night, and ninth in minutes at 31.6 a contest. Antwain Walker is eighth in scoring at 14.7 a game, fifth in rebounding at 7.4 a game, and second in blocked shots at 1.3 a game (24 in 18 games). Before the big matchup with Lowell on Sunday, they face NJIT (5-12, 2-2) on Thursday night.
The University of New Hampshire Wildcats (8-9, 3-2) finds themselves in the middle of the pack this week. They are the best defensive team in the league allowing just 65 points a game. But they are next to last in offense averaging 67 a game. They are second in opponent’s FG percentage at 41% (389-of-944), and second in turnover margin at 1.24 (210 assists to 170 turnovers). They have been getting excellent play from Clarence Daniels, fourth in the league in scoring at 15.2 a game, leads in rebounding at 10.3 a contest, and fourth in minutes at 33.7. Nick Johnson is sixth in minutes at 32.2 a game, fifth in steals with 17 for an average of 1.4 a night, and 12th in scoring at 13.6 a game. The Wildcats play only once this week on the road at UMBC.
Antwain Walker of Bryant is this week’s AE Player of the Week. He averaged 26 points and eight rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Bulldogs. He had a monster double-double last Wednesday night vs Albany of 33 points and 11 rebounds. In the two games he shot 71% from the field (22-of-31) In the Bulldogs’ two wins a week ago, the team averaged 86.5 points.
For the fifth time this season, UAlbany’s Johnathan Beagle is this week’s AE Rookie of the Week. He averaged 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists for the Great Danes last week. In a loss to Bryant last week, he scored a career-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting with four rebounds and four assists. Then on Saturday vs NJIT, he had 11 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. There is little doubt he is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year in the league.
That’s all for this week. We will be back next week with more from America East basketball.
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