STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Sophomore Matt Harris (Erie, Pa.) recorded 15 points to pace the UMass Lowell River Hawks (4-9) in a 76-62 loss at Wagner (7-4) to close out non-conference play in 2015-16 on Wednesday evening.
“The foul trouble really impacted us tonight,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Pat Duquette. “Isaac White and Jahad Thomas are two of our most important ball handlers, and they both had three fouls in the first half, so that made it difficult for us. I thought if we played as well as we’re capable of, this is a game we could’ve won. Defensively in the first, we probably played our best half of basketball this year, so I was happy with that. We’re looking forward to getting back home and getting into our America East Conference play.”
Harris was one of two double-digit scorers for the River Hawks, as redshirt sophomore Jahad Thomas (Williamsport, Pa.) added 13 points, along with a team-high seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman Ryan Jones (Rio Rancho, N.M.) added nine points, as well.
The River Hawks won the opening tip and jumped out to a quick 7-0 advantage that included a three-point play by Jones to start the night. The teams traded baskets in the following minutes with UMass Lowell maintaining at least a five-point margin until the Seahawks were able to put together a 12-0 spurt to take the lead at 16-11 with 8:12 remaining in the first half.
Thomas snapped a seven-minute scoring drought for the visitors when he banked in a basket off the glass, making it a one-possession game. Jones and freshman Isaac White (Ashland, Ohio) then drained back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to just two at 21-19 with five minutes left in the first. Wagner extended its buffer at the foul line with seven good free throws in the waning minutes of the period, but Harris knocked down a long ball to pull the River Hawks back within three, down just 28-25, at the break.
Coming out of halftime, the Seahawks struck first with a three, but redshirt freshman Josh Gantz (Grove City, Ohio) and Jones made up the difference at the foul line. Thomas took control on the next possessions, energizing the River Hawks with three consecutive buckets that made the score 37-34 with 15:28 still to go in the outing. However, the home squad outscored UMass Lowell, 11-6, in the next five minutes to give Wagner a 48-40 buffer with less than 11 minutes to play.
Harris responded for UMass Lowell, converting on a pair of free throws before hitting a three-pointer to pull his team within a basket once again, this time at 48-45 with 10 minutes to go. The Seahawks would take a double-digit margin for the first time in the contest, though, thanks to a 15-4 run that put the team on top, 63-49 with 6:07 to play. The River Hawks closed the gap to as few as 10 on a three by White, but Wagner would go on to secure the 76-62 decision.
Corey Henson led the Seahawks with 16 points in the matchup, while Marquis Salmon tallied 13 points and 13 rebounds. Dwaun Anderson and Henry Brooks rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Wednesday’s contest marked the first meeting ever between UMass Lowell and Wagner in the sport of men’s basketball. The River Hawks will have a week off before opening America East play at home against Hartford on Wednesday, January 6. Tipoff for that contest is slated for 7 p.m.