River Hawks Get a Daley Delivery

January 17, 2019 GMT

LOWELL -- Freshman Bryce Daley has seen plenty of playing time for the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team this season, but it has largely been in a backup role with his primary focus being facilitating.

Men’s basketball

On Wednesday night, however, more was needed from the 6-foot-4 Pittsfield native. Starting point guard Ryan Jones sat out for the second straight game while nursing an ankle injury and the River Hawks needed a spark after a sleepy start against America East foe Albany.

Daley delivered the goods with a career-high 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting and sparked UMass Lowell to an 84-72 victory at Costello Athletic Center.

Daley may have entered the contest averaging a mere 2.9 points and shooting 20.8 percent from the floor, but he looked like a seasoned superstar, also dishing out four assists with no turnovers in his 34 minutes. He scored six points in a crucial five-minute stretch in the second half to help UML take the lead for good with 9:31 remaining after it had trailed by 10 earlier in the frame.

“I kind of just took what the defense gave me,” said Daley. “I did what I could to help the team, and some of the possessions that was score the ball, sometimes it was to find the open guy.”

The River Hawks improved to 10-9 (2-2 AE) and have a winning record this late in the season for the first time as a Division 1 program. Sophomore guard Obadiah Noel led five players in double-figures with a game-high 22 points (9-for-14). Junior Christian Lutete had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The deciding factor was likely the play of Daley and his fellow freshmen. Forward Darius Henderson (career-high 10 points) and guard Alex Rivera (12 points, 4-for-7 on 3-pointers) came up big as well. The youngsters gave UML a spark when it needed it against a bigger Albany (5-13, 0-3 AE) team that came ready to play.

UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette was asked if the freshmen won the game for UML.

“I think we need, collectively, a certain amount of production across the board,” said Duquette. “We don’t get a win if Bryce doesn’t play as well as he does. I think it’s proven that we need four, five, six guys to almost score in double-digits. That’s not the type of team we were in the past, but that’s the type of team we are now. I think it’s a tougher team to beat and a more fun team to play on.”

The Great Danes had four players in double-figures led by Cameron Healy’s 19 points. They led by as many as 13 in the first half, capitalizing on UML’s sluggish start.

Rivera and Daley did their best to keep the River Hawks within striking distance. Rivera drilled a pair of deep triples to cut it to seven with 3:39 left in the first. Daley made a jumper in the paint to cut it to four inside the final minute. But Albany took momentum into the locker room as Boston native Rayshawn Miller drained a 30-footer at the buzzer to give the Great Danes a 42-35 halftime lead.

“The first half clearly wasn’t going our way,” said Duquette. “Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn. I thought they hit tough shots. But I told the guys at halftime to just keep plugging away and doing things the way that we do, and I think the game will turn.”

It did.

UMass Lowell shot 69.2 percent as a team in the second half and turned it over just twice. The defense also clamped down and forced the Great Danes into tough possessions that led to 34.4 percent shooting.

Noel had 15 of his 22 in the second half, including nine in the final 10 minutes to make sure the hosts maintained their advantage.

“It feels good to have a winning record right now,” said Noel. “We’re winning more games so that’s bringing confidence. I feel like there’s more energy with us right now.”

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone