Wes Cole goes ballistic from behind the arc, breaks program record while leading Hartford to 69-51 win over UMass LowellTuesday, January 21st, 2014
After Vermont and Stony Brook – the usual suspects in the battle for America East supremacy and two teams that have put considerable distance between themselves and the rest of the pack – no team in the “AE” entered Monday hotter than the UMass Lowell River Hawks.
Ineligible for post season play for four years as part of their NCAA-sanctioned “transitional” period, the River Hawks were all but unanimously relegated to the bottom of the America East barrel by fans and prognosticators alike before the opening tip-off of their inaugural Division I season. But after losing their first 11 Division I games of the season, Lowell caught fire. Powered by heart, hustle, effort and energy, the River Hawks rattled off three straight conference wins, downing UMBC, Binghamton and defending tournament champion Albany and nearly knocking off Stony Brook at Pritchard Gymnasium – the most hostile of road environments – before falling by five.
Hartford, on the other hand, began Monday as one of the bigger disappointments in the conference. It wasn’t that the Hawks were playing poorly, but rather, they were the same ball-reversal, ball-reversal, ball-reversal, contested-3 at the end of the shot clock, team they were last year. Solidly upper-middle of the America East pack (aided by perhaps the worst collective crop of teams in league history), Hartford hadn’t taken the step up to true contender that many had predicted.
40 minutes of game time later, and it was the original America East Hawks who were flying high and the new birds on the block whose wings were clipped, as Hartford downed UMass Lowell in a 69-51 wire-to-wire win.
The story of the day was Hartford junior Wes Cole, who exploded for a career-high 30 points by drilling a 10-of-20 3-pointers to set a new program record. Cole’s 10 3-pointers broke former Hawk Joe Zeglinski’s previous record of nine set against New Hampshire in February of 2008. Cole’s eruption trails only Gary Bossert, who drilled 12 for Niagra in 1987, and T.J. Sorrentine, who buried 11 for Vermont in 2002, for the most in a single game in conference history.
“Joe Zeglinski’s one of the best players to ever play here and to break one of his records, it’s pretty cool,” said Cole after the game.
Cole’s 20 attempts trails only former Northeastern Husky Marcus Barnes, who bombed away 21 times against Vermont in 2004, for the most in America East history.
Hartford out-rebounded the River Hawks 38-30, out-shot Lowell 41.9 percent from the floor to 36.7 percent, and drilled 14 3-pointers to Lowell’s six. Hartford registered the resounding win despite playing without two starters in junior forward Nate Sikma and sophomore guard Evan Cooper, who were each dealing with leg injuries. In their absence, junior guard Corban Wroe stepped up. Known as a defensive stopper, Wroe scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds. Reserve senior forward Oren Faulk added eight rebounds off the bench. (more…)