Purple Knights upset 23rd-ranked UMass Lowell, stay perfect in NE-10

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team remained perfect in Northeast-10 Conference play while upsetting nationally-ranked University of Massachusetts at Lowell on Tuesday, 69-59, in the Ross Sports Center.

The Purple Knights are now 2-3 overall and 2-0 in the league, as each of their three losses came by six points or fewer. The River Hawks, who were 23rd in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) preseason poll, fell to 4-1 and 1-1.

Sophomore Mike Holton Jr. (Portland, Ore./The Winchendon School) netted a game-best 21 points, going 8-of-10 on free throws while adding six rebounds and four assists. Junior Travis Warech (Pine Brook, N.J./Montville) had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 21 minutes while snaring six boards, and senior Tom Ward (Brighton, East Sussex, England/Saint Francis [N.Y.]) notched nine points.

Junior Derek Knutty (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney) pulled down eight rebounds in 12 minutes as a reserve, while senior Tyler Schilling (Excelsior, Minn./Minnetonka) hauled in five caroms, moving past Peter Cragan '70 into ninth place in program history with 771 career rebounds. Saint Michael's shot 43.1 percent while committing only nine turnovers and shooting 20-of-29 on free throws. It also forced nine River Hawk turnovers but held the visitors to 32.8 percent shooting, including 5-of-28 from three-point range.

Senior Dipanjot Singh (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township/UI-Chicago) and junior Matt Welch (Lowell, Mass./Lowell) each collected 16 points to lead UMass Lowell, with Welch grabbing seven rebounds and Singh shooting 7-for-8 on free throws. Sophomore Akeem Williams (Brockton, Mass./The Winchendon School) added 10 points and four assists.

Down 40-28 at the half, the River Hawks twice cut their deficit to eight points early in the second stanza, but Ward's lay-up following a Knutty block at the other end made it 57-41 with 10:46 remaining. The Purple Knights maintained their double-digit advantage until the final four minutes, as Welch's lay-in made the score 63-55 at 3:49. A Welch jumper cut the River Hawk deficit to 66-59 with 45 seconds to go, but freshman Corey Crawford (Dover, Del./The Phelps School) hit a free throw at 29 ticks, and Holton's steal and breakaway dunk on the other end with 18 seconds remaining iced the victory.

Early on, the Purple Knights trailed 4-2 before compiling a 14-0 run, with Warech netting the final seven points to make it 16-4 at 14:05 of the opening half. Holton pushed the Saint Michael's lead to 17 at 29-12 with 8:05 remaining, and the hosts continued to lead by at least 11 points until Welch's lay-up with 50 seconds left made it 38-28. However, Holton knocked down a mid-range jumper at 25 ticks, sending his team into the locker room up 40-28.

Holton netted 15 points in the opening half, helping his team shoot 51.9 percent. The Purple Knights were also buoyed by a 9-of-12 showing on free throws and committed just four turnovers. They limited the River Hawks to 32.4 percent shooting, including a 2-of-14 showing from three-point range.

Saint Michael's breaks for the Thanksgiving holiday before returning to action on Sunday by hosting Franklin Pierce University at 3:30 p.m.