51-Point Second Half Powers UAlbany Men’s Basketball Past UMass Lowell 90-77
ALBANY, N.Y. – Fueled by 23+ point performances by David Nichols and Joe Cremo, the UAlbany men’s basketball team had its top offensive performance in America East play this season, defeating UMass Lowell 90-77 for win number five in six games.
Up by four at the break, UAlbany (14-10, 5-4 AE) scored its first five field goals of the second half, leading to an 18-5 run against UMass Lowell (9-15, 3-6 AE). UAlbany led by double digits the rest of the way.
“Our mindset coming in was Lowell is a dangerous offensive team and they spread the floor,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “The first 12-14 minutes of the second half, we defended well and played with a sense of urgency.”
UAlbany has now won five of its last six games, all by double digit scoring. 51 points in the second half is the most in a period against a Division I team this season.
Nichols earned his third 20+ point game in his last five contests, finishing with a near double-double off 24 points and a career-high eight assists. Cremo notched his second straight 20+ point game, finishing with 23 points and five assists. Greig Stire nearly had a double-double off 12 points and nine rebounds while Travis Charles concluded with 15 points and five boards off the bench.
“We are just buying into what our coaches are telling us, playing defense more efficiently,” said Nichols. “We are still not where we need to be, but we are trying to get better one day at a time.”
For UMass Lowell, Jahad Thomas shot 10-for-13 from the field for 26 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Ryan Jones got 18 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Stire was UAlbany’s early target to the basket, scoring UAlbany’s first eight points. UAlbany played man-to-man defense to begin, with UMass Lowell using an early 7-2 run, capped by a Stefan Borovac wing three, for a 14-10 River Hawks advantage.
UMass Lowell continued to hit shots, at one point going 6-for-7, to build its lead to six. UAlbany continued to drive into the paint for its shooting, leading to a 7-0 run, started by a layup and one by Nichols, to go ahead 23-22 with under seven in the 1st.
After some back and forth where the visitors retook the lead, Cremo went on a personal 7-0 run, including three out of three free throws, to send UAlbany back ahead. A Costa Anderson deep three helped UAlbany lead 39-35 at the break.
UAlbany came out of the locker room on fire, hitting its first five field goal attempts. Nichols made three of those five to total seven points in the run, with Devonte Campbell added a layup and one to complete the streak. Campbell added a free throw to complete the 12-3 run to begin the half, pushing UAlbany ahead 52-38 less than four minutes into the half.
UAlbany’s lead rose to 17 with another make by Nichols on the kick-out three, going up 57-40 with 14:48 remaining.
The ebb and flow continued as UMass Lowell and UAlbany kept exchanging points, with Nichols and Charles countering Thomas and Logan Primerano. A fast break layup by Anderson made it 76-58 UAlbany with under seven minutes left.
UMass Lowell continued to fire away from three, seeing Primerano and Tyler Livingston each hit one as the River Hawks tried to keep pace. Cremo had a hand in three consecutive baskets, scoring two and assisting another to Nichols, making it 90-70 with 2:30 left.
UAlbany gets set for the annual Big Purple Growl this weekend, hosting rival Stony Brook on Saturday, February 4th at 7 p.m. at the SEFCU Arena.