MUNSTER | A top priority for young Lowell this season is to keep its games close as possible, then hope for the best in crunch time.
Coach Nate Richie's Red Devils, winners in three of their previous four games, came to Munster averaging 50 points while giving up 48.6.
But this was Times' No. 1 Munster that owned a 13-game win streak against Lowell dating back to Dec. 1 of 2000, during which its margin of victory had been as close as 12 points (59-47) in 2004 and as big as 56 (92-36) in 2010.
Friday night was much different as these Red Devils had a chip on their shoulder the size of a canned ham.
"They came out and didn't care who we were. They wanted to play tougher than us," said Munster's Mike Schlotman after his team's nervous 58-48 Northwest Crossroads Conference win.
Drew Hackett led the Mustangs (16-0, 4-0) with 17 points, Schlotman had 15 and Nate Bubash added 15 to go with a game-high 11 rebounds.
Lowell (7-9, 3-2) trailed only 52-45 late in the quarter but couldn't overcome the Mustangs' 10-of-12 foul shooting.
Richie was out of town on personal business, leaving assistant Chris Jusevitch in charge.
"There's really no difference (tonight). Our kids play hard week in and week out. They're growing up every week," Jusevitch said. "You have to remember, we have one senior and one starter back this season.
"We knew we couldn't go toe-to-toe with Munster, so every possession was important. We're still learning to win games like this. Munster already knows how."
Junior Zach VanHook kept Lowell in it with 21 points and eight rebounds. Spenser Kersey, the lone senior, scored all nine of his points in the second half and had six rebounds.
"If we were to pull this out, it would've taken the full 32 minutes," Jusevitch said.
Lowell slowed it up the first quarter to force an 11-11 tie and it was 36-28, Munster, after three.
"We've got to play better (Saturday) against Valpo. We have to focus the whole game," Schlotman said.
"We were out of sorts at both ends of the floor tonight," coach Mike Hackett lamented. "Lowell stuck with their game plan -- be patient offensively and sit in their zones, defensively. It's nothing we haven't seen before.
"We still won. We kept our conference (win) streak intact at 34-0, blah, blah, blah. But you hate it when you don't play up to your potential."