After a disappointing season last year, the Hartford Hawks men’s basketball team looked for a better start to this year and it came quickly.
All it needed to take was one win in the first 13 games this season to have a better start than last year.
Last year the team started 0-13 before winning their first game of the season against the University of New Hampshire.
This year, the Hawks started off 0-2 losing to Quinnipiac and Mount St. Mary’s.
Mark Nwakamma led the Hawks in scoring in those two games with 15 against the Bobcats and 21 against the Mountaineers.
However, Hartford was able to obtain their first win in their third game of the season beating Sacred Heart by a score of 62-47.
In the game against Sacred Heart, sophomore Wes Cole led the way with 14 points in only 17 minutes of play.
Freshman guard, Evan Cooper followed up with 11 points of his own. Sophomores Nwakamma and Yolonzo Moore II each tallied nine points.
Hartford held the lead throughout most of the game outscoring their opponent by 13 in the first half.
They didn’t look back after the first half, scoring 33 points in the second to ultimately give them the win.
The Hawks looked to win their second game in a row against La Salle at home on Nov. 20. Hartford would go on to lose the game though by a score of 64-51.
Nwakamma led the Hawks in scoring and rebounding with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Cole also had 11 points and shot three for five from downtown.
However, that could not stop the Explorers’ three-headed monster in Tyreek Duren, Jerrell Wright and Ramon Galloway. Each had 15, 14 and 13 points respectively.
To go along with his 14 points, Wright also had nine rebounds, four of them being from the offensive end.
In the first half of that game, La Salle outscored Hartford by 18 with a 40-22 advantage. While the Hawks outscored them by five in the second half, it wasn’t enough to stop the Explorers giving UHa their third loss of the season.
The Hawks would then look to their showdown rival game against Central Connecticut State to tap off a three game home stand. In what was possibly the biggest and most challenging game of the season so far, Hartford defeated CCSU by a score of 80-77 on Saturday Nov. 24.
Nwakamma once again led the Hawks to victory scoring 24 points to go along with seven rebounds. He also tallied five assists in the game. Following him was Moore II who had 16 points.
What made this game more challenging was that the Blue Devils had one of the nation’s top scorers on their team.
Kyle Vinales, who averages close to 25 points per game in his sophomore campaign, tallied 32 points against the Hawks.
With 12:31 remaining in the game, CCSU had a six-point advantage at 57-52.
However, Hartford would go on an impressive 20-5 run to give them a lead that they never relinquished.
Although it became close towards the end, key offensive rebounds by the Hawks and free throws put the Blue Devils away for good.
The Hawks will look to win their second game in a row when they go on to face Yale in New Haven before returning home against Holy Cross on Dec. 1.
Hartford will look for sophomores Nwakamma, Cole, Nate Sikma and Moore II to provide leadership for a young team for the remainder of the regular season before conference play starts on Jan. 2 against the Binghamton Bearcats.
The Hawks went 7-7 within the America East Conference last season and are looking to carry their momentum from their non-conference games into the heavie schedule down the road.
With new player graduate manager Clayton Brothers on the staff, he should provide his fellow ex-teammates with some solid insight on the competition and give the young team some pointers when it comes to the mental aspects of the game.
Hartford’s next game is on Saturday against Holy Cross at home at 7 p.m.