College Sports

UMass Lowell’s run is over after loss to Hartford in America East tourney final

Hartford is heading to March Madness for the first time ever.

Kassi Jackson
Hartford's Austin Williams tries to muscle his way to the basket past UMass Lowell's Allin Blunt in the America East final. Kassi Jackson

UMass Lowell’s America East Conference tournament run ended with a 64-50 loss to Hartford in the title game Saturday.

The visiting River Hawks (11-12) had produced two spectacular comebacks, but failed to turn on the afterburners as they were held scoreless from the field for a 7:07 span down the stretch. Hartford (15-8), which earned a bid to the NCAA tournament with its fifth successive victory, stopped Obadiah Noel and Connor Withers, and the Lowell supporting cast failed to compensate.

UMass Lowell survived a 0-for-11 shooting slump and an eight-minute scoring drought to take an early 11-10 lead on a Kalil Thomas 3-pointer with 8:09 remaining in the first half. It took 15:52 for Noel break into the scoring column, but Withers was held scoreless in the opening half. Hartford shot 7 for 29 (24.1 percent) in the first half, but closed with four foul shots in the final 2:12 to take a 24-18 lead.

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Lowell started the second half strong, and Noel’s 3-point play and Withers’s 3-pointer provided a 26-25 advantage with 17:10 remaining. The River Hawks appeared poised for a rally down the stretch as Noel’s free throw pulled them within 42-39 and set up a bonus situation with 9:19 left. Instead, Hartford went on a 15-2 run, a Traci Carter jumper off the dribble providing a 57-41 lead with 3:32 remaining.

Noel’s 4-point play with 3:19 left brought some hope to the River Hawks. But Hartford went to a four-guard alignment and played keepaway to clinch the result.

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