Jahad Thomas had 20 points for the River Hawks in the team’s first international game. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
The men’s basketball team recently traveled to Italy for a 10-day exhibition tournament where they played three games against professional teams, while also taking some time to explore Rome, Florence and Lucca. The River Hawks finished their trip with a 1-2 record.
The team first took on BC Silute of Lithuania, but unfortunately fell flat with a final score of 82-77. With one minute remaining, BC Silute scored six points to take the lead and the River Hawks were unable to recover.
Junior Ryan Jones and redshirt-senior Jahad Thomas led UMass Lowell with 21 and 20 points, respectively. The team tied the game eight separate times, but aside from scoring the first initial baskets, the only other lead came in the second quarter.
UMass Lowell had three days of rest and travel before taking on the first of two teams in the Italian Basketball League System on Aug. 23. The River Hawks captured a victory against the Pino Dragons, 95-65, with senior Matt Harris scoring four three-pointers to contribute to his team-high 18 points. Thomas also led the team in rebounds, with 11, to aid in the win.
Much like their first international game, the contest was tied on multiple occasions including four times in the first quarter. The group pulled away from the Dragons in the second quarter and the Florence-based team could not come back.
The third and final game against Fortitudo Agrigento ended in a nail-biter as the River Hawks came back from an 11-point deficit in the final minute and a half, adding nine points to make it a two-point game. Ultimately, UMass Lowell fell by one point in a 92-91 matchup. Jones again led the team with 31 points, and it was his last three-pointer that made it a one point game. Thomas similarly battled for the River Hawks, as he contributed 22 points and seven rebounds.
With four new members joining the River Hawks this year, the trip was certainly a learning experience and time for the team to prepare for the start of their upcoming season.
UMass Lowell completed their previous season with an 11-20 record, making it their fourth consecutive year with double-digit victories. Thomas led the team in scoring with 567 points, 322 of which came during conference matchups, and in both offensive and defensive rebounds with 71 and 209.
Jones followed with 414 points, including 56 three-pointers for the 2016-2017 season. He also tallied 93 assists.
Former senior Tyler Livingston graduated last May, but was an integral asset to the River Hawks last winter. Like Thomas and Jones, Livingston started in all 31 games and added 409 points overall. He had a team-high 13 blocks for the season.
Based on their international trip, the team will forge ahead and rely on their offensive scorers to build upon the momentum of last season. The men’s basketball season kicks off on Nov. 10 at UMass Amherst, and their first home game will be Nov. 12 against UMass Boston at the Costello Athletic Center.