The UMass Lowell River Hawks may have been picked last in the America East pre-season poll, but they're proving to be a rough opponent this season. They had a 9-8 record coming into their match against Hartford with wins against talented opponents such as Boston University and NJIT.
The River Hawks started the game out right with a dunk from Kerry Weldon. But Hartford answered with a three from Mark Nwakamma. The first half turned into a basket for basket routine, with Hartford staying ever so slightly ahead. What kept Lowell in the game was the ridiculous amount of fouls on Hartford. The team accumulated 10 fouls in the first half with just under six minutes to go. Four Hawks headed into the locker room with at least two fouls.
The second half of play is when things got interesting. A River Hawk trey from Matt Harris at 8:54 tied the game at 39 each. Jumpers by Harris and Brad Schaub propelled them past Hartford for a two possession lead. As their lead grew and the clock was winding down, it looked like the River Hawks had clinched a win against one of the top teams in America East.
But if there's one thing to take away from this game, it's never underestimate Head Coach John Gallagher and his Hartford Hawks.
After a time out with 1:29 left to go in the game, down by six, and Nwakamma shooting free throws, Hartford needed something if they were going to win this game. Only making one of the two free throws, Hartford cut the lead to five, but Lowell had the ball. Wes Cole swooped in for a steal that ultimately lead to a three point basket by Corban Wroe to cut the lead down to three.
Unable to accept defeat, Wroe grabbed a steal with 0:46 left. Two missed shots and two offensive rebounds later, the ball landed in the hands of Sophomore Guard, Justin Graham. With the clock ticking down, he stepped back behind the arc and fired a three point shot that tied the game to send it into overtime.
With some confidence regained, the Hawks dominated the five minutes of overtime. They held the River Hawks to only six points, two from the field and two free throws. The young Lowell team couldn't keep up with the more veteran Hartford squad. While the River Hawks walk away with another loss to their record, they also have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with.