BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Freshman Keith Hayes II (Little Rock, Ark.) scored a game- and season-high 20 points to pace the UMass Lowell River Hawks (3-3) in an 84-72 loss at LIU Brooklyn (4-2) on Thursday evening.
UMass Lowell trailed by just seven with less than eight minutes to go in the outing, but the Blackbirds outscored the visitors, 17-12, in the final minutes en route to the decision.
“Our effort was good, especially at the end, we had a group out there that really competed,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Pat Duquette. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well, and LIU shot 8-for-11 from the three-point line in the first half. That’s an advantage that we typically have. They’re bigger and stronger, and if they’re going to shoot the ball that well on their home court, that makes it a tough game for us.”
Hayes went a personal-best 9-for-10 from the foul line on the night to lead four double-digit scorers for the River Hawks. Junior Tyler Livingston (Hudson, N.H.) chipped in with 12 points, while freshmen Ryan Jones (Rio Rancho, N.M.) and Isaac White (Ashland, Ohio) totaled 10 points apiece. Senior Mark Cornelius (Westford, Mass.) notched a team-high four assists, as well.
The River Hawks pulled in front early with a layup from Jones and a three from redshirt freshman Josh Gantz (Grove City, Ohio), but the Blackbirds were quick to answer, using 12 straight points to take a 16-5 edge with 12:57 remaining in the first half.
Hayes broke the silence for UMass Lowell, driving hard to the basket and taking a foul to convert on the three-point play. Livingston followed with a fast-break layup and a long ball, making it a two-possession game, before Hayes cut the difference to just a bucket at 19-16 with less than 10 minutes left in the half. The teams traded baskets until the Blackbirds hit back-to-back threes to spark a 10-2 run and take a 36-25 edge at 5:12. The home squad led by as many as 12 on two occasions before a three-point jumper in the waning seconds gave LIU a 47-34 buffer at the break.
Coming out of halftime, the Blackbirds put together an 11-2 run to pull away, 58-36. Livingston knocked down a jumper from beyond the arc, as the River Hawks outscored LIU, 10-6, in the next three minutes to make the score 64-46 with 11:56 still to go in the outing.
Freshman Logan Primerano (Peru, Ind.) banked in a jumper and Hayes drained a three from the wing, sending the River Hawks on an 11-1 run that cut the difference back to single digits at 67-60 with 7:47 left to play.
The Blackbirds responded with eight consecutive points to build their buffer back up to 15. UMass Lowell would pull within 12 with two minutes to go, but were unable to come any closer, as LIU sealed the 84-72 decision.
Five Blackbirds scored in double-digits, including Iverson Fleming, who tallied a team-high 17 points. Jerome Frink and Joel Hernandez, who each added 16 points, helped pace the squad on the boards with eight rebounds apiece.
Thursday’s contest marked the first meeting ever between UMass Lowell and LIU Brooklyn in the sport of men’s basketball. The River Hawks will continue their three-game road swing at NJIT on Saturday, December 5. Tipoff for that game, which will be streamed live on ESPN3, is slated for 2 p.m. eastern.