December 28, 2015

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Omari Grier finally showed Rutgers his offensive capabilities when he decides to be aggressive.  

Grier scored 22 points and went 6 of 7 from 3-point range to lead the Scarlet Knights to an 89-66 victory over UMass Lowell on Monday night. 

The senior guard once scored 33 points in a game while playing for Bradley, but in his first 11 games with Rutgers he had yet to hit double figures.  

"I needed to be a little more assertive and a little more aggressive than I had been," said Grier, who was 8 of 11 overall and made his final six 3-point attempts. "In past games I would get shots and would pass them up. But with the help of my coaches and teammates, they've been extremely supportive and they've just continued to encourage me to be aggressive." 

Grier knows he was brought in to score, and felt that being new to the team was holding him back a bit. He also would be hesitant after having shooting slumps in practice, but said, "I felt like I had it going tonight and I just want to continue that from here on out to be able to help my team."  

Jonathan Laurent had 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (6-7), who completed their non-conference schedule on a two-game winning streak. Mike Williams added 10 points for Rutgers.

"(Laurent)'s a key right now," said Corey Sanders, who had 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. "Jon is down there fighting (in the post). That's not his position but he's playing well right now for us."  

Jahad Thomas had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the River Hawks (4-8), who lost their fourth straight. Isaac White scored 13 points, while Matt Harris had 11 and Josh Gantz added 10.    

UMass Lowell chipped a 43-32 halftime deficit to 51-46 with 13:25 left. Rutgers responded with a 24-8 run that opened a 75-54 advantage. The Knights shot 9 of 10 during the run.    

The River Hawks got no closer than 16 points the rest of the way and Rutgers opened its biggest lead at 89-64.  

The Scarlet Knights shot 53.7 percent (36 of 67) in reaching a season-high in points. Rutgers is 3-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better. The River Hawks shot just 37.3 percent (25 of 67), missing numerous open shots.

"We did what we normally do well," UMass Lowell coach Pat Duquette said. "We played good offense and made the right plays, spaced the floor and shared the ball. When we're effective, that's what we're doing well. Defensively, that's been our Achilles' heel and that's what we need to get better at, quickly." 

After three ties and three lead changes in the first half, Rutgers expanded on a 27-26 advantage by scoring 10 straight. The Scarlet Knights stretched the run to 16-4 for their largest lead of the half at 13, and held a 43-32 halftime advantage.

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TIP-INS

UMass Lowell: The River Hawks have played six of their last seven on the road. Three have been against Power 5 Conference schools, including a victory at Boston College.

Rutgers: This is the Knights' second two-game winning streak, and Rutgers has won two straight against Division I opponents for the first time this season. Sanders, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week Monday, entered the game leading Big Ten freshman in scoring (13.5 points) and steals (1.6).

MOMENTARY SCARE: With three big men already out with injury, Rutgers got a scare midway through the first half when forward D.J. Foreman was helped off favoring his left ankle. Foreman later returned and showed no ill effects.

UP NEXT

UMass Lowell is at Wagner Wednesday.

Rutgers hosts Indiana in its Big Ten opener Wednesday,

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