UNH men’s basketball went to UMass Lowell for a date with the Riverhawks on the heels of their loss against UVM. The Wildcats challenged the Riverhawks into the final seconds before losing and falling back below the .500 mark on the season.
To open up the scoring for UNH, sophomore forward Jayden Martinez hit a quick three-pointer and a layup to follow. Three straight baskets by the Riverhawks, however, put UMass Lowell ahead by one within the first four minutes of the contest.
The two sides traded baskets for the next few minutes until the Riverhawks really began to pull away about midway through the first half.
A dunk by UNH senior forward Chris Lester tied the game at 16 before the home team went on an 8-0 run over the next three minutes. UMass Lowell first-year guard Kalil Thomas started the run with a three-point ball. Junior guard Obadiah Noel followed suit and sunk a three of his own to extend the lead to six.
UNH was able to cut the lead a few minutes later thanks to a pair of buckets from sophomore forward Meekness Payne. That two-point deficit, however, would be as close as the Wildcats could get to UMass Lowell’s point total for the remainder of the first half.
Riverhawk graduate guard Christian Lutete scored nine of UMass Lowell’s final 15 points to give his side a 13-point lead heading into the locker room.
UNH wasn’t able to make up any ground coming out for the second half, as UMass Lowell extended the lead to as much as 17 in the first few minutes. A three-pointer from Noel put the Riverhawks ahead 47-30.
Lester and Payne began to cut into the lead with three straight baskets from Lester followed by two from Payne. This 11-0 run brought the lead to just six points.
UNH struggled to crawl back into the game after that run. A pair of free throws from Lutete extended the UMass Lowell lead to 12 points with about three and a half minutes to play.
With under a minute to play, three straight three-pointers from Jayden Martinez, Josh Hopkins and Marque Maultsby tied the game at 75 apiece.
Lutete put the game on ice with six seconds on the clock. His two free throws put the Riverhawks ahead 77-75. UNH wouldn’t have enough time to tie the game, as they lost their second straight game – falling to 10-11 on the season.
This is a win that UNH certainly could’ve used against an inferior UMass Lowell team.
“Any coach on the country will tell you, you’ve got to win your home games … and you’ve got to steal a few on the road,” said head coach Bill Herrion following the Vermont loss.
Lutete led all UMass Lowell scorers with 23 points. Noel wasn’t far behind with 21 points, seven rebounds, and three steals.
UNH had four scorers reach double digits as Martinez led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds. Maultsby, Lester, and Nick Guadarrama each followed with 15, 13, and 12 points respectively.
Martinez has led the team in scoring in each of their last two games. UNH has seen lots of growth from their sophomore players, and Herrion thinks they still have a lot of room to grow, especially Martinez.
“His upside is through the roof,” Herrion said.
The Wildcats will welcome Stony Brook into the Lundholm Gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 8 for a 12 p.m. tip-off. Herrion and the ‘Cats will look to get back to the .500 mark with a win.