Jesse Morgan hasn’t exactly shot lights out heading into Tuesday night’s tilt at Northeastern. After all, he was a painful 2-for-17 from 3-point range over the last two games and looked discouraged with his shot.
But with the Massachusetts men’s basketball locked in a grinder on the road and in need of a lift, Morgan didn’t disappoint.
He buried four 3-pointers in the final six minutes, 55 seconds as part of his 18-point outburst to catapult the Minutemen past the Huskies, 72-66, at Matthews Arena.
UMass (4-3) was trailing by six with 4:24 left, but it nailed a pair of triples to knot the score at 62. The second trey jumpstarted a late Minuteman 10-2 run to seize control and steal a victory.
Morgan was hesitant to say he was in a hot streak, but he admitted it was nice to see his 3s start to fall.
“It felt really good,” Morgan said in a postgame interview with UMass Athletics. “Chaz (Williams) did a great job of finding me.”
Williams said that once he saw Morgan start to knock down shots, he had to continue to feed him.
“Once he hit one, I just told him I’d keep going to him until he stopped making them and he just kept hitting them,” Williams said.
Kellogg said he’s seen Morgan hit big shots at all levels and knew he was capable of going on a hot streak.
“When his head’s confident and he’s in the right frame of mind, I think he can shoot with the best of them,” he said.
Tuesday marked UMass’ first game without forward Cady Lalanne, who was suspended Monday after being charged with three misdemeanors after an altercation Saturday night.
Senior Sampson Carter got the start in Lalanne’s place, and held his own in the paint with 14 points, shooting 3-of-5 from the field while draining 8-of-10 from the free throw line.
“I knew once I was able to get a lot of minutes, I knew I was going to be able to get going,” Carter said.
Kellogg said that Carter had been on him to get more minutes and feels this is his opportunity, but wasn’t surprised by his production.
“He seems to know how to play and just has a good feel for the game so I’m not surprised,” Kellogg said. “I actually expect a little more out of him.”
With the absence of Lalanne, the Minutemen didn’t overcompensate with more 3-pointers, but, in fact, shied away from the arc. UMass uncorked 20 attempts from down town – making seven – when it fired up an average of 30.5 3-pointers in the previous three games.
“Our motto is we’re gonna go play and compete, and if you have an open shot, put it in,” Kellogg said. “I keep telling them, ‘You’re getting open shots; just knock them down.’”
But Kellogg felt Lalanne was missed on the glass, as the Huskies outrebounded the Minutemen, 41-37.
“I think obviously Cady gets us some of those defensive rebounds because of his size,” Kellogg said.
UMass has a long break for final exams before it returns to the court on Dec. 15 to take on Elon in Springfield.
In the meantime, Kellogg knows there’s some work to be done in practice before its next contest.
“There’s really a ton of things we can get better at, so I think we do have a little room for growth.”
But he had to add one more thing.
“And shooting. We’re gonna shoot a ton.”
Stephen Sellner can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Stephen_Sellner.