Minutemen stumble through winter break
While students were on break, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team started its Atlantic 10 schedule after closing out the non-conference games.
Although UMass (7-10, 1-3 A-10) finished winter break 2-5, coach Derek Kellogg remains positive about his team’s progress over winter break. Here’s a recap on all the games that happened during break.
Jan. 16: Temple 76 – UMass 64
The last time UMass played a ranked opponent was on Nov. 28, when it lost in a 106-68 rout to Michigan State.
The 19th-ranked Owls tried to produce a similar result with a 22-point lead and 6:08 left in the first half, but this time, the Minutemen kept Temple from running away. UMass cut the deficit to seven points on a 3-pointer from Javorn Farrell with 8:41 left in the second half, but Temple’s hot shooting kept the Minutemen from getting any closer.
The Owls finished the game 14-for-22 from beyond the arc with 11 of those shots coming from guards Ryan Brooks and Juan Fernandez.
Jan. 13: Richmond 70 – UMass 63
Freddie Riley led UMass with 20 points and also helped overcome an early 14-point deficit, but was outscored 17-10 in overtime. Richmond opened with a 5-0 lead before the freshman hit a 3-pointer to keep the game close.
The Spiders were cold from the field (37.1 percent) and from 3-point range (20.7), but controlled the game with their defense.
Richmond’s Darrius Garrett was dominant on the defensive end with 13 rebounds and 14 blocks. The sophomore was two points away from recording a triple-double.
Ryan Butler also played a critical role on the defensive end with four steals, which contributed to 18 Minutemen turnovers.
Jan. 10: La Salle 80 – UMass 74
Poor free-throw shooting (52.2 percent) prevented the Minutemen from holding onto their seven-point lead at halftime to lose in front of a pro-UMass crowd in Springfield.
Aaric Murray led the Explorers with 18 points in 27 minutes and showed off his defensive skills around the basket with four blocks.
The Minutemen received strong efforts from Terrell Vinson (13 points) and Riley (22 points), but couldn’t hold off La Salle’s size down low, as it dominated the boards with 47 rebounds compared to 32 from UMass.
Jan. 06: UMass 78 – Fordham 76
UMass led by 13 points during the game, but Fordham came back and tied the Minutemen, thanks to Brenton Butler’s 31 points. With 2.9 seconds left, senior captain Ricky Harris made a jump shot to give his team its first A-10 win.
With less than four minutes to go in the second half, Harris scored five straight points to give UMass a 52-42 lead and continued its control of the game up until the 10:28 mark.
Butler then scored 11 of his points as part of a 16-3 run and tied the game at 65 apiece. However, the Rams couldn’t maintain a lead and stayed winless in the A-10.
Dec. 30: Davidson 63 – UMass 61
Davidson’s J.P. Kuhlman made two free throws with 4.1 seconds left in the game to give UMass its second-straight loss before A-10 play.
The Minutemen were up 49-47 with 10:28 left in the game before the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run to go up nine. UMass went scoreless for over seven minutes, but stayed with Davidson long enough to tie the game with eight seconds left.
Harris came off the bench to lead his team with 21 points, while Anthony Gurley added 17 to the effort.
The Minutemen finished the game 18.8 percent from 3-point range, including nine straight misses in the first half.
Dec. 23: BC 79 – UMass 67
The Minutemen hoped to keep the game close against Boston College as it did against Memphis, but the Golden Eagles pulled away midway through the second half on a 16-4 run and held on for a 12-point win.
Gurley led UMass with 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Minutemen dominated the boards, 50-33, but couldn’t hold off BC’s offense, which had four players finish in double-figures.
Forwards Corey Raji and Joe Trapani finished with a team-high 18 points for the Golden Eagles and the team shot 44.1 percent from the field compared to 36.8 for the Minutemen.
Dec. 19: UMass 73 – Memphis 72
All Memphis needed to break the Associated Press Top 25 Poll was a win over the Minutemen. UMass freshman Terrell Vinson had other plans for the Tigers.
The forward led the Maroon and White with 21 points at the TD Garden in Boston, including a last-second shot to give his team a one-point win.
Part of the reason for UMass’ success was its advantage in rebounding (44-24) and 50 percent shooting.
The Minutemen led by seven points in the second half, until Memphis went on a 12-2 run to take a 63-60 lead with 6:40 left. However, UMass continued to use its edge on the boards to limit second-chance opportunities and upset the Tigers.
Adam Miller can be reached at email@example.com.