LOWELL, Mass. – Senior Allin Blunt (Crownsville, Md.) logged 19 points to lead a late comeback effort, but the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team faced a 78-67 setback against top-ranked Vermont in an America East matchup on Saturday.
Although the visitors led by 21 with just over six minutes to go, the River Hawks continued to battle and got hot on the offensive end, threatening the lead late. Blunt and junior Kalil Thomas (New Orleans, La.) combined for five threes during a 20-3 run that made it just a four-point game, 69-65, with 1:51 to go. However, Justin Mazzulla hit a critical three to keep the Catamounts in front before free throws would seal the decision.
“This was a tough loss at home today against a really good team,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “That’s why they’re the best team in the league. Defensively, they are the most disciplined and most consistent that we have faced. You’re going to have to be really good to beat them because they make very few mistakes. I think we’ve gotten better on the defensive end, but they’re the best, so if we’re going to play at that level, we’re going to have to be more consistent and more physical.”
Blunt went 4-for-6 from long range in the outing, as the River Hawks shot 45% (9-20) from deep as a unit. Sophomore Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.) added 14 points and six rebounds on the day. Sophomore Quinton Mincey (Upper Marlboro, Md.) added six boards of his own, while Thomas and graduate student John Hall (Philadelphia, Pa.) finished with nine and eight points, respectively.
Brooks floated in a layup and Blunt sunk a deep three to get the River Hawks on the board, but the Catamounts responded with 17 unanswered to create an early, 19-5 buffer. The visitors stretched the lead as far as 16 before the River Hawks battled back with a 9-0 run that was capped off by back-to-back layups from Hall, making the score 23-16 with nine minutes remaining in the first.
The River Hawks were back within seven less than two minutes later following another bucket from Brooks, but the visitors stretched the difference back to double-digits, 32-18, at 4:10. Brooks, who would then bookend consecutive UVM threes with layups of his own down the stretch, tallied the final eight points of the half for UMass Lowell to cut the difference to 38-26 heading into the locker room.
Vermont pulled away with eight of the first 10 points in the second. However, Hall and Blunt combined for seven to stop the Catamount run and put their squad within 13, 48-35, with 13:25 to go, setting up the hard-fought finish.
The River Hawks are right back at it at home on Monday, February 7. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
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