LAWRENCE – Lawrence basketball coach Raymond Nunez said he wanted to turn Friday night’s big Merrimack Valley Conference tilt with undefeated Lowell into a track meet.
By the time the Lancers’ Juan Felix Rodriguez , Luis Reynoso and Chris Ruiz were finished passing the baton around last night, it was quite apparent that the path to the MVC title may very well go right through the LHS fieldhouse this winter.
The trio combined for 71 points, led by Rodriguez’ monster 29-point, 11-rebound performance as Lawrence (9-1) simply ran away and hid from a stunned Lowell squad, 89-65.
“Our success comes from our energy, our defense, our rebounding and just making it a track meet,” Nunez said. “They’re a great team and had been scoring like 80 points a game and we just wanted to get stops. Hopefully this can carry us to the next level, but we still have a long way to go and the guys know that.”
Paced by an eight-point first quarter by junior big man Luis Reynoso (22 points, including two very loud dunks, and 10 boards), Lawrence got out to a 20-9 lead as the Lancers owned the paint.
“We just came out with fire and never stopped,” Reynoso said. “It’s very big for us and it brings up everybody’s confidence on the team.”
Lowell (7-1) shot just 4-for-15 in the opening quarter and could never really get on track all game long against a Lancers squad which dominated the offensive glass. Lowell senior standout Alex Rivera was held to 17 points – none of them easy on this evening.
“Alex Rivera is a prolific scorer and you are not going to totally shut him down, but just try to make him take difficult shots,” Nunez said.
Rivera, who is headed to UMass-Lowell next year, could get very little breathing room early on with Lawrence senior captain Cristian Kinsley draped all over him. Even when Kinsley left with a shoulder injury right before the half, fellow senior Miguel Camacho was right there to pick up the slack.
Leading 41-29 at the break, the third quarter quickly became the Rodriguez show as the senior drifted in and out of consciousness on his way a 16-point masterpiece. The fireworks were punctuated by a three at the buzzer which sent the boisterous crowd at the LHS Fieldhouse through the roof and left Lowell staring at the wrong end of a 65-48 score.
“He’s one of our captains and one of the top scorers in the MVC and he’s developed some confidence which showed in the game,” lauded Nunez of the…