The strongest part of the Massachusetts basketball team’s game was nonexistent against George Washington Wednesday night.
In a highly physical game, the Minutemen (10-16, 4-8 Atlantic 10) were outrebounded, 55-34, by the Colonials, who went on to win, 66-60.
“There were a lot of differences, but that was the main culprit in the game,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Those second chance points were daggers, and they looked like the more physical team.”
GW grabbed 26 offensive rebounds on the game, turning their boards into 26 second chance points, while UMass had 11 offensive rebounds.
Along with the rebounds, the Minutemen went 13-of-23 from the free-throw line, while the Colonials shot just over 50 percent from the charity stripe.
“I guess it was physical game, when both teams were on the 1-and-1’s, but we got out-hustled,” Kellogg said. “But, we didn’t quit, but with not quitting you need to make those plays, and they executed down the stretch.”
The Minutemen committed 30 personal fouls, including 19 in the second half, and had three charges called against them after they made all three baskets.
Freshman forward Javorn Farrell, playing in front of friends and family from his native Maryland, was ejected early in the second half for throwing a punch at a GW player.
Freshman guard Freddie Riley led the Minutemen with 15 points, all in the first half, going 5-for-9 from the field and 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while redshirt junior guard Anthony Gurley had 16 points off the bench.
Senior guard Ricky Harris was held to 10 points after strong offensive efforts in the Minutemen’s last two victories, while freshman forward Terrell Vinson added 10. Centers Sean Carter and Hashim Bailey each had six rebounds in the loss.
“We did that to Duquesne last week, but tonight, we had it done to us,” Kellogg said.
The Minutemen were dominant on the glass, grabbing 60 rebounds in the victory over the Dukes, while leading the A-10 in offensive rebounds.
UMass was up by two points at halftime, 31-29, but found itself playing catch-up again late in the second half, after 16 lead changes and neither team being up by more than five points in the first half.
After a scoring drought that lasted five minutes, Riley put the team back on top with his fourth 3-pointer of the half. Riley could not get open looks in the second half, as GW narrowed in on him, along with Harris.
“As teams key in on Ricky, Freddie and Anthony and some other guys are going to get some open looks, they just need to convert,” Kellogg said.
In the second half, the Minutemen missed eight of their first nine shots, but Gurley scored 11 straight points for UMass to bring the team back to within one with just over seven minutes to go.
UMass again cut the deficit to one, 54-53, on a Carter alley-oop dunk from Harris, but GW scored the next four points before Gurley hit another 3-pointer. The Colonials went up by five, but Harris hit a big 3-pointer with 21 seconds left, but the Minutemen could not grab rebounds, as two free throws and a steal cost the Minutemen the game.
The Minutemen return to the Mullins Center this Saturday when they host Saint Louis at 4 p.m.
The Billikens are coming off a come-from-behind double-overtime victory over Dayton last Sunday, and are in fifth place in the A-10 with a 7-3 conference record.
SLU leads the all-time series, 5-3, and defeated the Minutemen, 69-64, last season in Saint Louis.
The Billikens are one of the youngest teams in America, with 11 of their 12 players being underclassmen, and are led by Kwamain Mitchell, who averages 16.1 points per game.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.