The Massachusetts basketball team hung with one of the best teams in the conference for a while, with a strong home crowd and a nationally televised game.
However, the Minutemen (8-13, 2-5 Atlantic 10) could not stop Charlotte from scoring, falling to the 49ers, 72-58, on Saturday night at the Mullins Center in front of 6,003 people, the largest crowd this season.
Senior guard Ricky Harris led UMass with 25 points and four assists, and redshirt Anthony Gurley added 11 in the loss.
The 49ers (16-5, 5-1 A-10) had two solid scoring drives in each half, as Derrio Green scored a career-high 34 points on 8-for-16 from beyond the arc, as 21 of his 34 points came in the first half on 5-of-10 from the field.
“As far as the game goes, we played hard, we rebounded the ball, the one kid Green had a career night,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “He shot the ball well, I thought their team played well, played fantastic, and I thought we did some good things, where our basketball decisions were something we need to work on.”
The Minutemen again held an advantage on the glass against their opponents, outrebounding the 49ers 44-39, behind redshirt sophomore center Sean Carter and freshman forward Terrell Vinson, who had 10 and eight, respectively.
However, after shooting the ball relatively well in a victory against Saint Joseph’s, the Minutemen fell back into a slump, shooting just 34.3 percent from the field and going 4-for-28 from 3-point range.
“We shoot a lot of 3s, and quite a few of those were in transition,” Kellogg said. “I thought their zone was pretty good, they did a good job with it and like I said, we have to make some better decisions against the zone.”
In the first half, the 49ers kept the Minutemen scoreless for almost six and a half minutes, as they went on a 15-0 run, leading 21-9, after both teams traded leads four times in the opening four minutes of the game.
The 49ers switched from man-to-man to zone defenses throughout the game, providing problems for the Minutemen’s offense.
Freshman guard Freddie Riley had no points, going 0-for-4 from both the field and beyond the arc. Even with just four points, freshman forward Javorn Farrell was a lone bright spot for the Minutemen. Farrell had four steals, one block, three assists and three rebounds.
“I thought he was great, his intensity level was higher than anybody in the game, you can put the Charlotte guys in that mix also,” Kellogg said. “He really went after loose balls, he dove on the floor.”
With 16 minutes left in the game, UMass trailed the 49ers by just one point, 37-36. But Charlotte outscored the Minutemen 21-5 over the next 10 minutes, as UMass fell behind by 17 points, and could not come within more than nine points for the rest of the game.
Despite the loss, Kellogg was pleased with the crowd, noting that it helped his team stay in the game.
“It actually gave us some sort of a home-court advantage when we were making our run in the second half, they really got into the ball game, and I’m hoping that down the line we’ll continue to have fan support and a crowd like that,” Kellogg said. “It makes a difference, it truly makes a difference and its good for our players’ and anybody interested in the University on TV to see that.”
The game was nationally televised on ESPNU, and the Minutemen’s next game against Xavier at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Mullins Center will be televised on CBS College Sports.
David Brinch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.