We’re on to Vermont.
The UMass Lowell men’s basketball team (12-10, 4-3) disappointingly had their four game winning streak snapped by the Maine Black Bears (4-19, 2-5) in a 78-59 blow out loss this past Wednesday night at the Tsongas Center. Being statistically the worst team in the conference, the America East visiting Black Bears were clear underdogs coming into the contest.
“We’ve had a lot of good moments this year, this was not one of them. [We] never got in to sync, didn’t show nearly enough or as much fight as we needed to,” said head coach Pat Duqeutte. “Credit Maine. I thought they played really well. They’ve been playing well all year [but] they just haven’t seen the results. They’re a good basketball team.”
In a game where the River Hawks were outscored 46-20 in the paint, the game plan by Maine’s head coach Richard Barron was clear; attack the smaller and undersized River Hawks. Tough 6’7 Junior forward Andrew Fleming, who came into the game averaging 12.9 points per game, turned out to be the perfect catalyst for coach Barron as he dominated the hosts. He finished as the game’s top scorer scoring a career high 36 points and seven rebounds on an incredible 18-20 shooting night from the field.
“He [Fleming] played a fantastic game. He’s a very good player but you can’t shoot that high of a percentage and not put him on the free throw line, said Duquette. “You got to make him work a little harder for his points. But there were mistakes across the board.”
The River Hawks came into the matchup in their best form of the season, but the Black Bears came out with a superior energy immediately; as they flew out to a double digit lead in the first half. The River Hawks, with what has turned into their typical starting five, had their usual dependable players all suited up for this contest. Their efforts were in vain.
“We never got into sync offensively at all. [It’s] a real disappointing loss, “said Duquette. “Had a nice conversation [ with the team] and hopefully we can bounce back quickly because we were playing good basketball up until this game.”
Sophomore guard Obadiah Noel embodied the first half in one play. As he was fouled on the floor, Noel continued to finish the play with an athletic dunk displaying his frustration in the team’s inability to get to the paint.
Maine’s Fleming continued his relentless attack on other end. The visitors dominated the boards as they out rebounded the River Hawks 33-25 for the entire game. What many River Hawk faithful might find most shocking was the scoring of the bench or lack of it. Freshman guards Alex Rivera and Bryce Daley are getting more adjusted to college basketball as each game goes on; consequently fans are expecting more production from the young core. Unfortunately for the Lowell faithful, it just wasn’t their night tonight. Redshirt junior guard Christian Lutete led the River Hawks with 26 points and six rebounds in a losing effort. The Black Bears had two players in double digit scoring figures, managed only to shoot 16% from beyond the arc, but still lead for the entirety of the game.
“Hope [being humbled] that’s what you think. If there’s any silver lining, I just don’t know why we needed a humbling, said Duquette. “Where we’re coming from and where people picked us [to finish in conference play], we shouldn’t need to be humbled. We should be continuing to fight as if we’re an underdog every night and that was my message to them after the game. If we’re going to be any good, that’s the mentality we are going to have.”
The rest of the teams in the America east conference will look into last night’s tape. They may consider following the Black Bear’s blue print of continuously attacking the River Hawks inside the paint.
“It worked tonight. Traditionally that’s been one of our weaknesses. Not just this year but you know in the first 5 or 6 years, we’ve gotten a little bit better. A little bit bigger, said Duquette. “We were bad tonight but again I think you have to make that team work for it a little bit harder. You got make them score from the free throw line and not high percentage uncontested layups. So we know that moving forward. We know what are weakness are, tonight I they were I think exaggerated.”