UML Turns Ice Cold at Wrong Time
LOWELL -- An already brutal shooting performance by the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team turned even worse at the most inopportune time on Saturday afternoon.
Facing a formidable Stony Brook squad that many believe will be the iron of the America East Conference, the River Hawks had managed to work around their shooting woes and trailed by just three points with four minutes remaining in the contest.
But UMass Lowell scored just two more points the rest of the way and failed to convert a field goal while going 0-for-7 down that final stretch.
It all added up to a 75-63 Stony Brook victory at Costello Athletic Center in the America East opener for both teams.
It was certainly an early measuring stick game for UMass Lowell (8-8, 0-1 AE) against the athletic and talented Seawolves (13-3, 1-0 AE), who had a distinct size advantage. UML, however, was its own worst enemy, shooting just 34.5 percent from the floor and 8-for-35 (22.9 percent) from 3-point land. Six of their final seven shot attempts were bricks from deep.
“I think we missed an opportunity today,” said UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette. “I think if we shot the ball decent, we had a good shot to get a good win at home. But we just couldn’t make a shot.”
Stony Brook struggled offensively, too, finishing at 41 percent from the floor. The River Hawks defended well, despite being at a disadvantage in the paint and on the glass. The difference was that the Seawolves didn’t fall in love with the 3-ball like UML and created easier chances with the game hanging in the balance.
Stony Brook junior Akwasi Yeboah led all scorers with 19 points, while freshman guard Miles Latimer had 16 points and four assists. UMass Lowell, meanwhile, had four players in doubles figures, with Ryan Jones, Christian Lutete (eight rebounds) and Obadiah Noel each scoring 13. Josh Gantz added 10 points. Those four players, however, shot a combined 14-for-39.
“On our home floor, we usually shoot the ball really well -- we usually shoot the ball well everywhere,” said Duquette, whose team entered the game shooting 49.2 percent as a unit. “We haven’t shot it this poorly all season, and when you do that against a really good team and give them as many opportunities as we did, you’re not going to beat one of the better teams in the league.
“I didn’t think we took bad shots, I actually thought they were open shots, they were good looks. We shared the ball, we made the right plays, we just didn’t make shots. Thirty-five threes is probably too much to begin with, but as long as they’re open I’m OK with it. Stony Brook is a hard team to penetrate to the basket against because they’re so long and athletic.”
UMass Lowell had its home win streak snapped at eight games. It also fell to 6-1 on the season after leading at halftime. The River Hawks led 33-31 at the break after neither team led by more than five points in the first 20 minutes. Freshman Bryce Daley made a floater in the lane and then converted one of two free throws after SB’s Anthony Ochefu was hit with a technical foul just before the half ended to give UML the lead.
″(UMass Lowell) is a really good basketball team. I think Pat does a great job and they’ve got multiple scorers. Lutete has come in and been a difference-maker for them,” said Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals. “Coming in, they were averaging 95 points per game in their five home wins, so we knew we had to play some defense to get the win.”
The River Hawks simply couldn’t find any rhythm in the final 20 minutes. They made just 3-of-19 from deep.
Jones made a triple from the elbow and was fouled with 14:14 left. He converted the free throw to put UML up 43-40. The Seawolves then went on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes to secure the lead.
“I think it definitely made us even more hungry, seeing that we were that close to what right now is the top team in the league,” said Jones. “We did a lot of things well, we were just short, so that’s encouraging. We just need to continue to get better every day and look forward to playing them again.”
Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone