Men playing strong as conference play begins

The Hartford Men’s Basketball team had a .500 stretch over break going 4-4, keeping their overall record at 10-9.

The Hawks are fourth in the conference standings with Boston University and Maine having the same conference record, but Hartford leads both in overall wins.

The three teams ahead of the Hawks are Albany, Vermont, and Stony Brook, who all only have 1 loss in conference play so far.  Hartford’s first game of the break was at home against the Marist Red Foxes.

After a solid first half lead of 11, the Hawks would go on to beat the Red Foxes 56-46 led by Nate Sikma with 15 points, while adding eight rebounds.

Mark Nwakamma finished with 14 points and Evan Cooper had 11 points with four steals.  Marist’s Chavaughn Lewis scored 16 points including four steals and two blocks in the loss.

The Hawks’ next challenge would be against the Colorado Buffalos on the road.

The Buffalos controlled the game from the opening tip going on an 18-3 run leaving the Hawks trailing by 24 at halftime. Though the Hawks would play better in the second half it would not be enough with the game ending 80-52 in Colorado’s favor.

Colorado’s points in the paint made the difference with 44 compared to Hartford’s 10.  Evan Cooper led the Hawks with 14 points, while knocking down three three-pointers.

Josh Scott, Askia Booker, and Andre Roberson had great shooting nights for the Buffalos hitting a combined 23 of 33 for the field with a total of 54 points.  Hartford’s first game of the New Year and conference opener would be against the Binghamton Bearcats.

This game would come down to the wire even though the Hawks were up 69-62 with 14 seconds left, the Bearcats Jimmy Gray and Rayner Moquete would hit two clutch shots from long distance to cut the game to one with three seconds left on the clock.

Yolonzo Moore II was intentionally fouled and hit two clutch free throws to make it a three points game, giving the Hawks the win.  The Hawks were led by Mark Nwakamma, who shot seven of eight from the field with 23 points and Evan Cooper would add 15 points of his own.

Jimmy Gray played a standout game for Binghamton hitting six three-pointers and finishing with a total of 24 points.

The Hawks would then go on to play Boston University in a game that would end close, but in control of the Hawks who hit six of six free throws in the last 47 seconds of play sealing the victory.

Hartford was ignited by Wes Cole, who came off the bench to hit six big three’s, leading his team with 22 points. Sikma, Nwakamma and Moore II also added a combined 42 points to secure the win.

The Hawks were also a perfect 17 of 17 from the charity stripe, which would make all the difference in the game.  The Terriers scoring leaders were D.J Irving, John Papale, and Maurice Watson Jr finishing with 17, 14 and 13 points.

Hartford would try to increase their conference winning streak to three playing against the Maine Black Bears.  After a 34-37 lead in the first half, the Black Bears would cut the lead to as close as one in the second half, but would never take the lead.  The Hawks would go onto win their third game in a row 68-61.

The Hawks shot 45 percent from behind the arc and outscored Maine off the bench 13-2.

Leading the Hartford was Nwakamma who had a solid all around performance scoring 23 points including seven rebounds and a career-high eight assists.  Moore II and Evan Cooper both finished respectively with 16 and 13 points.

Maine was led by John Mesghna and Justin Edwards, who had 17 points each.

Though Hartford was on a three game winning streak and on top of the America East, they would go on a cold streak losing their next games against Stony Brook, UMBC and Albany bringing their conference record to 3-3.

The Hawks numbers have been down, scoring under 60 points a game since January 12.

Hartford will have to work around its two most consistent players Nwakamma and Moore II, who have both been the scoring leaders in most of the Hawks games over break.

Cooper has also been playing well in his rookie season, while Cole has been an asset off the bench becoming a threat to all teams behind the three point line. Sikma has proven to be a scorer at times as well.

With the America East conference games just beginning, this season can be one Hawks’ fans do not want to miss.