LOWELL | Times No. 8 Lowell believes it can be a serious contender for the Northwest Crossroads Conference championship this season.
More performances like Friday night’s 66-44 thrashing of visiting Hobart in The Pit in the NCC opener for both teams, and there will be more believers than just the Red Devil faithful.
“We feel like we're the best team in our conference,” said sophomore point guard Brandon Cory, who dished out nine assists to go along with six points and four steals. “We approach practice like that, we approach games like that, and we’re going approach the rest of the season like that.”
“We think we have a great team this year, and we think that we can win a lot of games.”
Lowell (5-1, 1-0 NCC) broke the game open in the second half as Zach Van Hook scored 18 of his game-high 23 points after the break. Lowell extended a 30-18 halftime lead to 48-31 with 8 minutes left.
Van Hook finished some nifty alley-oop dunks, set up perfectly by Cory.
“It gives the team energy, and gets everybody into it,” Van Hook said.
Cory said the offense has several sets for Van Hook, including the dunks, which worked three times for the Red Devils.
“I do my job, put it on the money, and he does the rest,” Cory said. “Zach is athletic. He’s good. It’s nice having a guy that can do that and having a guy that wants to take over a game. And Zach can.”
While Hobart had difficulty scoring in the first half, Lowell was able to find good looks inside and out. Barker scored 12 points in the first half, including two 3-pointers.
Hobart’s Shane Tomaga got a nice tip-in at the halftime buzzer to cut the Lowell advantage to 12 points.
Hobart coach Mike Black gave a lot of credit to Lowell’s pressure defense for its own offensive struggles.
“They played at a higher level than we did,” he said. “They were stretches where I thought we played better and played harder, but they had more minutes like that than we did.”
Juan Lamar scored 19 points to lead the Brickies (2-3, 0-1).
Billy Barker added 15 points for the Red Devils.
“Give credit to Hobart,” Lowell coach Nate Richie said. “They’re young, but they’re tenacious, they’re active and they’re physical. They make you have to really execute your (offense) to do anything.”