LOWELL — The UMass Lowell men’s club basketball team has won the national championship for its league with a perfect 18-0 regular season record.
The first-ever national title for a UMass Lowell club sport comes during an extraordinary time. The River Hawks had planned to compete in the National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) championship tournament, originally scheduled for Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19 in South Bend, Ind., but it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, by virtue of the River Hawks’ No. 1 ranking in the NCBBA’s final regular season poll, UMass Lowell was named the top team this year.
“It’s a shame that we couldn’t play in the tournament, but I think we proved we deserved the championship during the season,” said Matt Maslowski, the club team’s president and a civil engineering major from Boylston.
Competing in the NCBBA’s New England North Division, the club racked up wins this season against competitors such as Harvard University, the University of Vermont and Bates College. The River Hawks’ closest contest was a six-point win at Tufts University in late-November and they closed out the season with a 113-67 victory against Merrimack College at home.
Leading the River Hawks was 6-foot-5-inch point guard Augustus Busumbru, a business administration major from East Hartford, Conn., who averaged more than 40 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds per game. He decided to give the club team a try after being encouraged to join by a few of its members.
“The guys brought the love of the game to me and I really started to embrace the program. It was something bigger than myself and it ended up being a huge part of my college career,” Busumbru said.
Last year, the River Hawks earned an at-large bid to the national tournament, where they lost to eventual champion East Carolina University in the first round.
The basketball team was founded in 2013. It is one of more than 30 UMass Lowell club sports — from rowing and rugby to cricket and underwater hockey – that provide athletic opportunities for hundreds of students.
Steven Goggin, a clinical laboratory sciences major from Peabody, captained last year’s squad and served as its volunteer coach this season. Local team members included: Dracut’s Kyle Scott (information technology), Dunstable’s Ethan Cook (business administration), and Hudson’s (N.H.) Trevor Bolduc (electrical engineering) and Joe Canelas (biomedical engineering).