BALTIMORE, Md. – Sophomore Ayinde Hikim (Washington, D.C.) went coast-to-coast for the buzzer beater that lifted the UMass Lowell men’s basketball team (9-6, 1-2 AE) to its first America East Conference victory of the season in come-from-behind fashion, taking down UMBC (5-7, 0-1 AE), 66-64, on the road Saturday evening.
Despite trailing by nine with only six minutes remaining, the River Hawks continued to battle, putting together a 17-6 run to end the game. With just about a minute left on the clock, junior Kalil Thomas (New Orleans, La.) hit a big three before sophomore Max Brooks (Waldorf, Md.) erased the difference on the next possession and graduate student Justin Faison (Prince George’s County, Md.) followed with a pair of clutch free throws to give UMass Lowell its first lead since late in the first half. The Retrievers went on to knot the score at 64-64, giving the visitors the ball back with just four seconds on the clock, but it was enough time for Hikim, who found an open lane to race down the court and drop in a layup for the win.
“Today was a tough, hard-fought, back-and-forth game,” said Head Coach Pat Duquette. “I thought our team responded defensively in the second half, which got us back in the game. UMBC is a tough, well-coached team that has a couple big-time shot makers. Ayinde made a play at the end that not many guys are quick enough to make.”
Senior Allin Blunt (Crownsville, Md.) recorded 16 points, leading the charge offensively for the River Hawks. Senior Everette Hammond (Silver Spring, Md.) added 14 points of his own, while Brooks rounded out the double-digit scoring performances with 13, in addition to adding nine rebounds.
Hammond hit from deep to start the contest, and Blunt followed with six of the team’s next eight points to help build a 12-4 lead only five minutes in. However, the Retrievers responded with a 14-4 run to build an 18-16 advantage midway through the first.
After a few key defensive stops, including a steal by Brooks, the River Hawks worked their way back on top, 25-18, with just over six minutes remaining in the period. Once again, though, the Retrievers tilted the momentum in their favor, scoring 15 straight points to help take a 35-27 edge heading into the locker room.
Two minutes into the second half, Hammond hit back-to-back jumpers from downtown, igniting the River Hawks’ offense, as they went on a 10-2 run to tie the game, 37-37. UMBC quickly took back the lead, but the River Hawks continued to battle it out and stayed within two-possessions until the Retrievers used a 9-2 spurt to create their largest buffer of the night, 58-49, with six minutes to go, setting up the River Hawks’ comeback efforts.
Next up, the River Hawks will travel to UAlbany to take on the Great Danes on Wednesday, January 12.