America East

America East Basketball News & Notes: College Basketball is Back

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There are two things that the first week in November brings. First, we must turn our clocks back one hour. The second is, that college basketball is back. The America East Conference, like everyone else in the college’s hoop world, started their season last Monday night. While there were no wins that stood out, seven different teams did get their first win of the season last week. The defending champions, the Vermont Catamounts, looked good on their opening night over Merrimack College. The team they beat in the conference title game last March, the UMass Lowell River Hawks, were also impressive on the road taking care of Dartmouth College by 33 points. Let’s take a look at some of the first week’s action in.

The near miss of the week came on night one of the season. UMBC (0-2) went to Louisville, KY to take on the Cardinals. The Retrievers took an eight-point lead with them to the locker room at 48-40. They shot 54% from the field, 55% from three-point range, and 71% from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Cardinals struggled to shoot the ball. They made only one of nine from behind the arc (11%) and just 2-of-14 (14%) for the game. So Louisville did what good teams are supposed to do when things are not going well. They change tactics. In the second half, the Cardinals took the ball to the basket. They would take 39 free throws making 24 of them. They also shot better from the field in the second half (19-of-32, 59%). The result was a game that had 11 ties and 14 lead changes. The Cardinals came away with a 94-93 win. UMBC could not stop them in the paint as Louisville scored 60 points in the paint. They also had 35 bench points and 16 off UMBC turnovers. The Retrievers got 42 points in the paint, 28 from their bench, and 15 off turnovers. Dion Brown, who was America East Player of the Week led the way with 28 points and Bryce Johnson had 21. Khydarius Smith came off the bench and had 13. On Saturday, UMBC was beaten by Marist 65-59.

Bryant College (1-2) started their season with a tough two-point loss to Manhattan at home last Monday night 61-59. Despite getting three starters in double-figures, the Bulldogs have a tough time putting the ball in the basket. They would shoot just 34% from the field (21-61), 39% from deep (9-23), and 40% from the foul line (8-20). Bryant was down two at the half, 35-33. They played an even second half 26-26. The Bulldogs did have foul trouble to deal with most of the game but could not make enough shots to win the game. They would explode for 140 vs Fisher as everyone played and scored. On Sunday, the Bulldogs headed to New Jersey for a game with Rutgers. Once again, the ball did not go in the basket enough for the Bulldogs to come away with the upset. Sherif Gross-Bullock had 10 points and nine rebounds before fouling out. Connor Withers, who transferred from Lowell, had 10. But it was not enough as Rutgers scored 24 points in the paint, another 21 on fast breaks, and 17 second-chance points and took the game by a 66-57 score.

After an opening night loss at UMass Amherst, the UAlbany Great Danes (1-1) grabbed win #1 on Saturday vs Columbia. The Great Danes placed four starters in double-figures led by Sebastian Thomas who had a game-high 24 points to go along with seven boards and five assists. They survived a second-half comeback from the Lions to get the win. UAlbany’s first half was the better of the two as they raced out to a 41-29 lead. They shot 44% from the field (15-34), 45% from 3-point land (5-11) and 66% from the line (6-9). The second half was a different story as Columbia started making shots (12-of-26 46%). But more importantly was getting to the line making 20-of-22 (90%) in the second half. Those made free throws are what allowed them back in the game and almost won it for them.

The Vermont Catamounts are off to a 2-0 start. Opening night saw another banner go up in Patrick Gymnasium as the Cats celebrated another conference title and trip to the NCAA tournament. After the banner went up, the team got down to business. Four players finished in double-figures led by Shamir Bogues, this week’s AE Rookie of the Week who had 19 points in his debut at home. The Catamounts led wire to wire getting 34 points in the paint, 10 off the bench, and 19 second-chance points as they defeated the Merrimack College Warriors 67-55.

The UMass Lowell River Hawks (2-0) took no prisoners on Friday night vs Dartmouth College as they began a six-game road trip. The 81-48 win was never in doubt. Led by a career night from guard Ayinde Hikim (25 points), the River Hawks were in control from the jump. They led by 30 at the half on the Big Green and would keep it that way through the second half. They blocked seven shots, scored 44 points in the paint, 22 off turnovers, and 28 more from the bench as everyone played in this route of Dartmouth College.

For both Vermont and UMass Lowell, the week ahead gets a little more difficult. For the Catamounts, they head to Myrtle Beach for the Myrtle Beach Invitational which starts on Thursday morning. For the River Hawks, back-to-back games on the road vs Power-5 teams as they face Georgia Tech on Tuesday night. Then it’s on to Arizona to face the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday night.

Hope you enjoyed our first installment of America East Basketball News and Notes for the new season. We will be here all season to keep you up to date on the happenings in the America East Conference.

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