LOWELL, Mass. – In a game that featured 19 lead changes, the Maine Black Bears could not prevent a late UMass Lowell scoring run, falling 88 to 76 on Wednesday night at the Tsongas Center.
With Maine (6-23, 3-11 America East) trailing by just one point at 72-71 with 6:26 remaining, the River Hawks (11-16, 5-9 AE) ended the contest on a 16-5 to put the game on ice.
Four Black Bears reached double-figures in scoring, led by Aaron Calixte’s 18 points. The redshirt junior dished six assists, grabbed five rebounds, and tallied a block and a steal in 35 minutes played.
Vernon Lowndes Jr. added 16 points (7-of-12 FG), six rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Isaiah White netted 11 tallies and brought down five rebounds, while Andrew Fleming recorded 10 points, seven boards, three assists, and two steals in a near double-double effort. Ilija Stojiljkovic matched a team-high with seven boards in the contest.
The two teams traded baskets the entire first half, with neither team earning a lead of greater than six points. The Black Bears shot an efficient 50 percent (16 of 32) from the field in the half, including 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from the beyond the arc.
After Dennis Ashley knocked down three of his nine points in the game to tie the contest up at 41-41, UMass Lowell closed the opening half on a 6-2 charge over the final 2:41.
The Rive Hawks went into the locker room with a 47-43 advantage, but Maine came out strong in the second frame, reclaiming the lead back at 50-49. Just as it happened in the first half, the two squads continued to trade points and leads until UMass Lowell built a seven-point lead following an 8-2 sprint by the River Hawks.
Maine was able to cut UMass Lowell’s advantage to just one point at 72-71 after a 10-3 swing, featuring three points from Fleming and Lowndes Jr. along with, two from White and Stojiljkovic.
Lowndes Jr. notched Maine’s last five points, but the River Hawks concluded the game on an 16-5 run to clinch their first ever America East playoff berth.
On the stat sheet, Maine led in rebounding (39-30), blocks (4-2), second chance points (9-8), fast break points (8-6), along with a significant advantage in bench points (29-4).
The Black Bears return to game action this Saturday, traveling to the Empire State to battle UAlbany. The opening tip at SEFCU Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. in New York’s state capital.