Recap: No. 20 Lawrence 62, No. 23 Lowell 57

LOWELL, Mass. -- After Lowell pulled within 3 points of Lawrence after a Corey Brown steal and layup, the Lancers were set to inbound the ball with under half a minute to go Friday.

Coming out of a timeout, Lowell coach Scott Boyle wanted his team to disguise their press as man-to-man when it really was more of a trap zone.

As the ball was inbounded to Yadoris Arias, two Lowell defenders converged on him, trapping him in the corner. He made what some would call a risky decision and sent a cross-court pass to a teammate. The pass was successful, and it was quickly pushed ahead to Tre’von Farley, who was fouled under the basket.

With the entire gym anxiously watching, knowing the outcome of the game could potentially hinge on his ability to hit one of the two free throws, Farley converted them both. Lawrence left the gym with a 62-57 victory in a crucial Merrimack Valley Conference tilt.

“I’ve been in the gym shooting free throws since our last game (a 69-67 loss against Central Catholic),” said Farley. “I was just thinking about the free throw. I was thinking, ‘Nothing’s gonna stop me from hitting these free throws,’ so I was really confident and just focused on hitting those free throws.”

Farley had 28 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lancers. He was 8-of-10 on free throws. His presence underneath was important for Lawrence (8-2) since his frontcourt mate, Roberto Speing, picked up his 4th foul early in the third quarter, forcing him to the bench.

“He played well, he was one of the only guys that played well offensively,” said Lawrence coach Paul Neal. “He was also big rebounding. He was a guy that just did a lot. He scored when we needed a big score and he got his hands on the ball.”

Lowell had no answer down low for the 6-foot-3 senior, who played with a tenacity and aggressiveness of someone bigger than his size.

“For me, I look to score and be aggressive, if not I look to pass,” Farley said. “Being aggressive tonight was successful, so every chance I got I went to the hoop and looked to score. It ended up being a good game.”

Jonathan Perez was the leading scorer for Lowell (8-3) with 23 points, including 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and 5 rebounds.

“We didn’t play well, but I think it’s also a good sign for a team,” said Neal. “It’s a road game against a very scrappy team, so to be able to get a league win, you’ve got to feel good about it.”

Going Green: Earlier in the season, Neal referenced his team’s lack of game experience as a potential pitfall for his team as the season wore on. While there are eight seniors on the team, some of them are players that did not see the floor much last season, if at all.

Although they hung on for the victory, their youthful aggression was evident early in the contest. In the first quarter, his team was called for at least four charging fouls as they were driving to the basket. It became a point of emphasis for Lowell, believing it could get an offensive foul called on most Lawrence offensive possessions if players were in position.

For every mental lapse and youthful mistake his team can make at times, Neal still likes the direction his team is headed as the focus starts to shift towards the postseason.

“I like where the team is at because I think we can improve,” he said. “Even in this game, I don’t see anything that I can look at and say we did that well. We found a way to win, which is good, but as far as execution, even defensively, we had a lot of mistakes. This team has a lot of potential to get better, so hopefully we can get it out of them.”

Streak snapped: The win snapped a five-game winning streak for Lowell and put Lawrence in second place in the MVC Large, behind cross-town rival Central Catholic. The Lancers’ only two losses on the season have come at the hands of Central. There will be another meeting on February 7. That is not lost on Lawrence, who came into the game stinging from the 2-point loss from last weekend.

“I don’t think this was a statement win,” said Farley. “I think we just came in and did what we had to do. There’s bigger teams than them. We know they’re a good team, but we’re still looking to make our statement.”

When asked if he was referencing a particular team, he simply replied, “Central Catholic.”