LOWELL, Mass. – Graduate student Allin Blunt (Crownsville, Md.) tallied 13 points to help lift the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team (18-6, 6-4 AE) to a 66-50 victory against UAlbany (6-18, 1-8 AE) on Wednesday evening.
With the win, the River Hawks improve their perfect home record this season to 12-0.
“This was a great home crowd and atmosphere again tonight,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “It seems like that is continuing to build, which is encouraging for us. The players appreciate it and it makes a huge difference. We had as good of a first half on both sides of the ball as we’ve played. We held them to 16 points on defense. Our guys were locked in, ready to go, they were focused. We shared the ball on offense and took good shots. I was a little disappointed in the second half that we didn’t handle the lead better and extend it, but I thought we were in control from start to finish and had a really good team effort with a lot of good contributions.”
As a team, the River Hawks held the Great Danes to the fewest first-half points of the season. The home team outrebounded their opponent, 44-29, as well.
Individually, sophomore Cam Morris III (Alexander City, Ala.) chipped in with 12 points, going a perfect, 6-for-6 from the field. Junior Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.) finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, in addition to four blocks.
The River Hawks quickly found their rhythm on offense on their home floor, sinking three triples in the opening minutes, including back-to-back long balls from Blunt, to create an early advantage. Layups from junior Yuri Covington (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) and senior Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (Bamako, Mali) opened a 10-0 run for the home team that was capped off by consecutive buckets through traffic by Morris to create a 23-7 margin with 10:14 remaining in the first half.
Da’Kquan Davis responded with a pair of threes for the Great Danes, but Brooks would finish an and-1, and freshman Brayden O’Conner (Ottawa, Ontario) followed with a trey to put the home team on top, 29-13, at 7:28. The River Hawks then kept the pressure on, holding the visitors scoreless in the final four and a half minutes and tallying the last eight points of the period to take a 39-16 advantage into the break.
The Great Danes attacked coming out of halftime, putting together a 12-3 spurt to cut into the difference. However, graduate student Everette Hammond (Silver Spring, Md.) beat the shot clock with a three from deep before Brooks jammed a put-back, spurring the River Hawk offense for 12 unanswered points, including six in a row from Morris to take the largest lead of the night, 54-28, with 9:50 still to play.
Although the visitors broke up the run with two straight threes, UMass Lowell got right back after it with a stretch of six more that was capped off by an alley-oop from senior Ayinde Hikim (Washington, D.C.) to O’Connor for a massive slam, making it 60-34 at 5:20. UAlbany would continue to battle, tallying the final 10 points of the night, but the River Hawks held on to remain unbeaten at home.
UMass Lowell stays in friendly confines this week, hosting NJIT on Saturday, February 4 at 1 p.m.
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