UMass-Lowell loses to Michigan 69-42 in D-I debut
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- This was quite a Division I debut for UMass-Lowell -- a trip to Michigan to face a team that played in the Final Four last season.
"We were excited when we got here for shootaround," coach Pat Duquette said. "Guys were taking pictures. They went up and walked along the concourse and took in all the history of all the great Michigan teams. It was a really good experience, and then obviously when the game time came, it was time to get focused."
The River Hawks acquitted themselves very well for a while before No. 7 Michigan finally pulled away in the second half for a 69-42 victory Friday night. UMass-Lowell actually led by two shortly after halftime, but the Wolverines scored the next 21 points.
Glenn Robinson III had 15 points for Michigan.
Akeem Williams scored 16 for UMass-Lowell, which was playing its first game as a Division I team. The River Hawks (0-1) aren't eligible for the America East or NCAA tournaments until 2017-18.
"We wanted this type of game. That's why we came out here," Duquette said. "Everybody's been excited. Our fans have been talking about it, our players have been excited to play in it."
Tyler Livingston had 10 points and nine rebounds for the River Hawks.
Michigan (1-0) raised its Final Four banner from last season before the game. The Wolverines were without star big man Mitch McGary, who sat out because of a lingering back problem.
The Wolverines looked out of sorts for a while in their first game after the departures of national player of the year Trey Burke and fellow guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Both left for the NBA after last season.
"Great learning time for us, and glad to get a win," coach John Beilein said. "The offense had to make a couple shots. The guys that are out there on that floor right now ... they never had to make those big plays in games that Trey and Tim used to always make."
The game was tied 23-all at halftime, and Williams made a layup off a steal for UMass-Lowell for the first basket of the second half.
The River Hawks went more than 10 minutes before scoring again.
"We were very comfortable being tied with them at half," Williams said. "I think fatigue had a little bit to do with it. We got tired. They're just relentless. Once they have a lead they're not giving that lead up. It's just hard for us to get ahold of everything and try to punch back."
Jon Horford put Michigan ahead 27-25 with a dunk, and last season's NCAA tournament runner-up eventually put the game out of reach. Freshman Derrick Walton was fouled while shooting from beyond the arc and made all three free throws. That made it 32-25, and Irvin added a 3-pointer and two free throws to push the lead to 17.
It was 44-25 when DJ Mlachnik made two free throws for the River Hawks to end the scoreless drought.
The Wolverines raised their 2013 Final Four banner in a ceremony about 20 minutes before the game. It was a particularly meaningful moment for this program because the Fab Five-era banners from the school's previous two trips to the Final Four -- in 1992 and 1993 -- were taken down because of NCAA violations.
Walton, Burke's replacement at point guard, started in his first college game, and he made a nice pass to Nik Stauskas for an early 3-pointer that put Michigan ahead 8-0. Williams finally scored the first basket for the River Hawks with 14:27 to go in the half, and UMass-Lowell was able to keep it close for a while.
Early on, the Wolverines looked nothing like the smooth, efficient team that came within a few points of a national title last season. Michigan shot 6 of 23 from the field in the first half and 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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