LOWELL -- A double-figure win total and a .500 record within the America East Conference were not expected to be in the cards for the UMass Lowell men's basketball team in the 2013-14 season.
Yet, with a victory on Thursday night over Maine -- a team that the River Hawks already defeated (74-62) on the road back on Jan. 23 -- UMass Lowell would achieve both of the aforementioned feats in the program's first year as a member of Division 1.
As mandated by the NCAA, the River Hawks (9-18, 7-8 AE) are not eligible for the upcoming America East Conference tournament, or any postseason basketball for that matter, until completing a four-year transition period. So, the season will end with Senior Night as Costello Athletic Center on Thursday (7 p.m.).
UMass Lowell entered January with a 1-11 record, with the only victory coming over Division 3 Mount Ida. Against Maine (5-21, 3-11 AE), UML will actually be the favorite. It's a clear sign of just how far the River Hawks have come since losing, 69-42, to perennial national power Michigan back in the season opener on Nov. 8.
Win or lose on Thursday, UMass Lowell will finish no worse than fifth in the regular season standings in the nine-team league. A victory would also mean that the River Hawks would finish the season with two straight wins.
A quartet of seniors will be honored prior to the tip-off against the Black Bears. All have been instrumental in easing the adjustment to D1.
Guard Akeem Williams leads the way. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Brockton native leads the America East in scoring at 15.9 points per game, to go with four rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game. He is third all-time in program history with 2,045 career points.
Forward Antonio Bivins is one of just five players in program history to tally 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. The 6-foot-5 Miami, Fla., native is averaging 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds. He has played in just 15 games after returning on Jan. 5 from an achilles injury that he suffered last offseason. Bivins originally planned to redshirt the year. Instead, he returned and helped the River Hawks to an 8-7 record with him in the lineup.
Forward Kerry Weldon (New York, N.Y.) has started every game and has done an admirable job as UML's de facto center. At just 6-foot-5, Weldon constantly matches up against much bigger players. He still manages to average 5.5 rebounds and provides steady defense.
Rounding out the senior class is 6-foot-7 Parris Massey (Boston), who has a team-high 27 blocks in 26 games.
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