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Last-second shot misses to give UM fourth straight loss

There’s no 3-point shot Freddie Riley is afraid to take.

Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg is just as confident in his freshman, even with the game on the line. But no matter how sure Kellogg (or any of the other Minutemen) were that one of Riley’s two potential game-winning shots was going to go in, mind wasn’t over matter, and St. Bonaventure squeaked out a 70-69 win.

Riley’s second shot came at the buzzer on a pass from senior Ricky Harris who passed up an opportunity of his own in hopes that his wide-open teammate would convert.

“He’s a great shooter. I’ve got confidence in him,” Harris said, who finished with a game-high of 22 points.

UMass (7-11, 1-4 Atlantic 10) climbed back from a 10-point deficit in the second half to tie the game with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left. However, center Sean Carter fouled the Bonnies’ leading scorer, Andrew Nicholson (26 points, seven rebounds, five blocks), who converted both free-throw attempts.

The forward then fouled guard Anthony Gurley on the next possession, who made 1-of-2 from the line.

The Minutemen then went scoreless until they called a 30-second timeout. When play resumed, Riley took a 3-pointer at the top of the key, which fell short. His second opportunity came after guard David Gibbs rebounded SBU guard Michael Davenport’s missed shot from beyond the arc, which turned into Riley’s second attempt at winning the game.

“We missed on some little things that we’re going to work on that I thought was the difference in the game,” Kellogg said on his team’s loss.

It was a back-and-forth affair the entire first half with the lead changing eight times, but SBU had a three-point lead going into the locker room by controlling second chance points, 11-6. Nicholson made an impact early with 15 points and four blocks in the first half.

UMass tried to counter from beyond the arc, but ended up 1-of-12.

The first time the Bonnies (9-8, 2-2 A-10) led by more than three was almost five minutes into the second half when Chris Matthews rebounded Harris’s missed layup and set Michael Davenport up for a fast break basket at the other end.

SBU led by its biggest margin of 10 points with 9:58 to go in the game, but quickly saw it shrink following a 7-0 run with five of those points by Harris.

Just as things started to turn up for the Minutemen, they found themselves in trouble once again when Matthews set up another fast break layup for Malcolm Eleby to make the game 59-54 with 8:44 to go.

The Bonnies built their lead back up to seven by the four minute mark, but UMass went on another 7-0 run. This time, it was to tie the game for the first time all half.

“We always thought we were going to pull it out because every day in practice when we scrimmage, we do end-of-game situations where one team is down eight points with three minutes to go so we always know we’re going to win, but it just didn’t go our way,” Riley said of his team’s ability to come back from a deficit.

Despite the team’s frustration with losing four straight games, Harris said nobody has given up because of how Kellogg believes in his players. But he’s been doing everything he can to keep that losing to a minimum by shooting jumpers well after practice ends.

The Minutemen’s next game will be against the third ranked opponent they’ve played this season, No. 25 Baylor, on Jan. 23. UMass hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent in either game against Michigan State or Temple.

Game Notes:

The loss was UMass’ first at the Mullins Center since the home opener on Nov. 18 when it dropped to Cornell, 74-61. The Minutemen are now 5-2 in Amherst.

Adam Miller can be reached at amiller@dailycollegian.com.

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