Senior guard Matt Harris led the River Hawks with 19 points. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
The Costello Athletic Center was rather quiet for the majority of the UMass Lowell men’s basketball game against the Loyola Greyhounds, until it wasn’t. The River Hawks stormed back from a sizable deficit to stay perfect on their home court at 5-0. The crowd erupted as the River Hawks chipped away from the Loyola lead and eventually took control, never to look back in an exciting 83-75 come-from-behind win.
UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette noted that the crowd’s support was well received by his team. “I thought the crowd was great; it is getting a little better with each game. There seems to be some excitement growing on campus,” he said.
Last year, Loyola defeated UMass Lowell by nine points in Maryland. It appears that home-court certainly does offers an advantage, as the Greyhounds could not prevail despite a hefty lead deep into the second half.
The River Hawks were lifted by their seniors, as guard Matt Harris led the team with 19 points and went 5 for 7 in 3-pointers. Guard Jahad Thomas controlled the rebounding for UMass Lowell with 14 boards to compliment 17 points of his own.
The River Hawks struggled early, trailing 45-40 at the halftime. Loyola continued to build their lead, extending the gap to 16 points early in the second half of play. An injury to Loyola senior guard Andre Walker handicapped Loyola’s offense, allowing for the River Hawks to lead a 20-0 run.
A 50 percent first half of shooting beyond the arc for Loyola allowed them to capture a lead early on. In the end, it would be the 3-pointers that would doom the Greyhounds. UMass Lowell’s Harris connected on three clutch shots late in the second half to turn the tide for the River Hawks.
The River Hawks came alive on offense in the second half, shooting 52 percent from a well-balanced attack. Duquette noted that a re-focus on the offensive game plan helped spark the comeback for the River Hawks.
“We continue to stress the importance of moving the ball on offense… I thought [that] in the second half we did a much better job of that,” said Duquette.
Although early in the season, the River Hawks have already defeated three teams that they fell to last year. Coach Duquette explained that last year’s games are a thing of the past and that each game offers a new opportunity.
“I think the first thing [we try to do] is to put the past games behind [us]. We treat each game uniquely, because they truly are unique,” Duquette said.
Unique indeed, as the River Hawks are off to their best start since entering Division I status. UMass Lowell improves to a 5-1 record with the victory and will host Sacred Heart on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 7pm.