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UM plagued by outside shooting struggles

Some teams live by it, others die by it.

For the Massachusetts basketball team, it’s been a staple of their success the past few seasons, as senior guard Ricky Harris is fourth in career 3-point shots made (240) and third in career 3-pointers attempted (682) in UMass history, even surpassing UMass coach Derek Kellogg.

However, the long ball has not found its way into the bottom of the net as of late for not only Harris, but for the rest of the Minutemen, who made just 4-of-24 shots from beyond the arc in a 70-69 loss to St. Bonaventure Wednesday night at the Mullins Center.

Freshman guard Freddie Riley, known for his scoring ability, especially from long range, took the most important 3-pointer of his young career in the closing seconds of the game. But the shot was short, as Riley finished the night just 2-for-8 from the 3-point line, while Harris made only two 3-point shots on eight attempts.

Four other UMass players attempted 3-point shots, but freshman forward Terrell Vinson (0-for-2), redshirt junior guard Anthony Gurley (0-for-4), junior guard Gary Correia (0-for-2) and freshman forward Sampson Carter (0-for-2) were not able to score from beyond the arc.

Like other opponents UMass has faced recently, the Bonnies were effective in forcing the Minutemen to take open shots from the 3-point line by collapsing in the middle of the lane, preventing players from getting easy lay-ups. UMass, however, was unable to knock down shots from deep, a problem that has plagued them in their past four contests.

“We do 3-point shooting everyday in practice, for the majority of practice,” Harris said. “We shoot the ball, its basically just us raising up and shooting the ball with confidence, being able to stand up there and knock down shots, and that’s just something that we have to do so that teams can respect our 3-point ball, because we have shooters all across the ball, we just have to start making them.”

Riley was impressive from 3-point range in losses to Richmond and Temple Jan. 13 and last Saturday, going 7-for-14 in both games, including a 6-of-14 performance en route to 22 points in a loss to La Salle Jan. 20. In that three-game stretch, Harris was just 2-of-17 from beyond the arc, and is just 4-of-23 in his last four games, all loses to Atlantic 10 opponents.

Riley is second to Harris in 3-point attempts with 104, and is second on the team with a .375 average, but leads the team with 39 3-pointers made, good for a 2.8 average. Harris is second with 32 for an average of 1.8 per game.

Against opponents so far this season, UMass has a .304 3-point shooting percentage, while opponents have a .366 mark, but the Minutemen average 6.9 3-point field goals made per game, compared to opponents (6.6).

UMass coach Derek Kellogg felt that his teams’ struggle with making 3-point shots has made it difficult to do other things on the offensive side of the ball.

“Its made it very difficult, we shoot threes, and I think we have good 3-point shooters, although our percentages, you know, at times tell us otherwise,” Kellogg said.

“I would venture to guess that we missed more open threes tonight than we have pretty much all year, but I will have to watch the tape and see.”

Kellogg wants to see his team continue to take threes, and to not pass up open shots, but also wants the Minutemen to start knocking them down in order to win games and stop their four-game losing skid.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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