On Thursday night at Costello Athletic Center, the UMass Lowell River Hawks (15-5, 6-1) returned to their winning ways with a 76-62 win over the Maine Black Bears (10-12, 2-5). The River Hawks placed four players in double-figures led by Cam Morris’s second double-double of the season of 19 points and 10 rebounds. UMass Lowell was in control of this contest for most of the night holding the lead for 31 minutes and 37 seconds of game time. There were five lead changes and three ties, however, once the River Hawks gained the lead late in the first half they never gave it back.
River Hawks head coach Pat Duquette called it “A great home win.” He loved the way his team responded to the tough home loss to Vermont last Thursday. While he was a little unhappy with having to wait a week to play again, the wait was worth it. One of the keys to Thursday night’s win was the guard play of the River Hawks. They turned the ball over only eight times against a Black Bear defense that has been forcing 13 turnovers a game. Simply put, UMass Lowell’s backcourt was better than Maine’s in this one.
So too was the frontcourt of UMass Lowell which is becoming their calling card of late. They outscored Maine’s frontcourt by 22 points, 48-26. Not only was Morris getting it done but so too was Max Brooks who had 13 points and nine rebounds. He also registered three more block shots to bring his season total to 41 in 20 games. Quinton Mincy, arguably the league’s best sixth man, finished in double-figures for the eighth game in a row and the 12th time in 13 Division 1 contests. His 19 points were big when you consider that for the time being the River Hawks are operating with a thin bench. That’s because Karim Coulibaly was unavailable for Thursday night’s game and he has now missed 10 games for UMass Lowell. Their record in those games is 6-4. Coach Duquette talked about his short bench after the game saying “he does not like it, needs to find more minutes from his bench to help his starters.”
The first half saw both teams make runs. UMass Lowell made the first one. A 7-0 run that broke a 4-2 Black Bear lead. A three from Morris, who after the game said the 3’s are “making it easier to get points in the paint, as well as help by teammates do the same.” That was followed by baskets from Brooks and Yuri Covington to make it a 9-4 River Hawks lead with 16:23 left in the first half. Maine came right back with a 7-0 run of their own. Baskets from Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish, Kellen Tynes (16 points, four assists) off a steal, and a second-chance three-pointer from Kristians Feierbergs gave the Black Bears an 11-9 lead with 14:42 left in the half. UMass Lowell would regain the lead, only to see Maine take it back on back-to-back 3-point shots from Tynes and AJ Lopez (13 points, before fouling out in the second half). It was part of an 8-0 run that saw the Black Bears take a 23-17 lead with 7:13 remaining in the first half.
UMass Lowell would grab the lead back on a Mincy 3-ball with 3:49 left in the half. Mincy had 10 points in the half. That made basket would also be the last time that Maine would see the lead for the rest of the night. The River Hawks would take a 33-27 lead to the locker room, thanks to a 9-2 run to end the half, Ayinde Hikim had six of those points. When leading at the half this year, UMass Lowell was 12-2.
The second half was all UMass Lowell. They took their first double-digit lead on a Brooks layup off an assist from Hikim. One of eight on the night for him, to go along with 13 points. The score was 47-36 with 14:39 to play. It reached its high of 17 at the five-minute mark on a Morris layup in the paint. 66-49 UMass Lowell. From there, the River Hawks took it home for their fourth home win of the season, 76-62 over Maine. Quion Burns chipped in with 13 for Maine.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday and both will be at home. Maine will host Bryant. UMass Lowell will host New Hampshire at Tsongas Center
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