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UConn Men’s Basketball Puts Away UMass Lowell, 97-75

It was a comfortable win despite an uncomfortable end to the first half.

Pato Jerzak

UMass Lowell made it interesting at the end of the first half, but UConn men’s basketball ended up with a solid 97-75 win over the River Hawks on Tuesday night at Gampel Pavilion.

Christian Vital and Jalen Adams each had a game-high 19 points, while Alterique Gilbert and Josh Carlton, who had eight rebounds, were close behind with 15 each.

The Huskies have scored 90 points in three-straight outings and four times in seven games on the young season. They did not hit that plateau last year and have not done it four times since the 2008-09 season, when it took until Feb. 25.

Each side is billed as having a fast tempo and that played out, as the Huskies and River Hawks each had 18 fast break points.

UConn was off to a fast start, starting the game on a 21-6 run. UMass Lowell’s tallest starter is 6-foot-7 and that lack of size combined with the ferocity of the Huskies’ pressure was too much early, as the River Hawks turned the ball over seven times in the first half.

Vital was on fire in the first 20 minutes as well, hitting 6-9 from the field, including 4-6 from deep to score 17 points. He was hitting his shots in rhythm and the team followed suit to the tune of 10 assists in the first half, led by Gilbert’s four.

That aided the Huskies to a lead that quickly ballooned out to 23 just before the under-eight minute media timeout, and it looked like the home side was on its way to an easy victory over a team ranked No. 294 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.

However, UMass Lowell was able to flip a switch after that timeout.

The Huskies scored eight points in the final 7:23, including 0-6 from the field in the final 3:55 of the half.

The River Hawks forced three turnovers, turned 29.4 percent shooting into 42.3 percent and trimmed the lead to 10 points at the break, making it a much closer game.

Whatever Dan Hurley said in the locker room worked, as his squad went on a quick 9-2 run in the first 1:55 of the second half, pushing the Huskies’ lead back out to 17. UMass Lowell briefly pushed it back to 13, but UConn kept the River Hawks at arm’s length.

That was until four quick buckets in less than a minute gave the home side a 24-point cushion with 9:13 to play. The difference between the two sides would hover around 20 until the final whistle sounded.

Sid Wilson also made his UConn debut after missing the first six games due to a suspension for violating university policy. He was 0-2 from the floor with three rebounds in five minutes of play.

UConn (6-1) continues a three-game home stand on Sunday against Arizona at the XL Center. Tip off on ESPN2 is at 1 p.m.