Scrolling Headlines:

Baldwin’s floor-spacing sparks UMass men’s basketball against Georgia -

December 17, 2017

Hot outside shooting leads UMass over Georgia -

December 16, 2017

Minutemen knock off Georgia for big statement win -

December 16, 2017

Cale Makar selected to play for Team Canada at the 2018 World Junior Championships -

December 15, 2017

UMass men’s basketball looks to remain undefeated at home when Georgia comes to town -

December 15, 2017

Editorial: Our shift to a primarily digital world -

December 13, 2017

Makar, Ferraro off to Ontario to compete for Team Canada’s World Junior hockey team -

December 12, 2017

Lecture attempts to answer whether treatment of depression has resulted in over-prescription of SSRIs -

December 12, 2017

Palestinian students on campus react to President Trump’s recent declaration -

December 12, 2017

Smith College hosts social media panel addressing impact of social media on government policies -

December 12, 2017

GOP Tax Plan will trouble working grad students -

December 12, 2017

Mario Ferraro making his mark with UMass -

December 12, 2017

Minutewomen look to keep momentum going against UMass Lowell -

December 12, 2017

Ames: UMass hockey’s turnaround is real, and it’s happening now -

December 12, 2017

When your favorite comedian is accused of sexual assault -

December 12, 2017

A snapshot of my college experience -

December 12, 2017

Homelessness is an issue that’s close to home -

December 12, 2017

Allowing oil drilling in Alaska sets a dangerous precedent -

December 12, 2017

‘She’s Gotta Have It’ is a television triumph -

December 12, 2017

Some of my favorite everyday brands -

December 12, 2017

Riley, Esho integral in UMass double-digit victory

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team looked out of whack.

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

Eastern Michigan was set up in its zone defense, as the Minutemen tried to move the ball around the perimeter to create some sort of offense. But as it turned out, all UMass could muster was an occasional 3-point conversion and a 12-10 deficit.

That was until Freddie Riley checked into the game. From that point on, it was as if the Minutemen were firing up golf balls into the middle of the ocean.

Riley sunk five straight triples to spark a 24-5 Minuteman run midway through the first half to catapult the home team to a 17-point lead; one which it held onto for a 75-61 handling of the Eagles Saturday afternoon at the Mullins Center.

Riley finished 6-of-9 from 3-point range as part of his 18-point afternoon in 23 minutes. Riley’s sharp shooting sparked UMass’ 11-for-25 showing from beyond the arc, including a 9-for-19 pace after he first checked into the game.

“I just wanted to come in and play confident,” Riley said, “and the shots went in, so I just kept shooting.”

Chaz Williams, who assisted on two of Riley’s triples during the run, knows that once Riley is hot, it’s best to keep feeding him while he’s in that zone.

“You gotta get Fred the ball when he’s on fire,” Williams said. “He got a little red match under his feet, and he just kept scoring. And once he get his roll going, you just gotta keep going to him.”

UMass coach Derek Kellogg said it was nice to see Riley go on a “Freddie-Riley-esqe” run, and feels Riley’s development as a complete player has helped earn him more minutes than simply being turned to when he’s knocking down jumpers.

“In years previous, (I put him in) when he was hot to a certain extent; if he makes his first couple, we stay with him,” Kellogg said. “He’s actually becoming a good basketball player. Defensively, he’s really getting after it, I think he’s driving the ball in the paint and being strong. … It really is nice to see a kid mature and grow up and get older and become a better basketball player.”

Lost in Riley’s overload of 3’s was the play of Maxie Esho, who came off the bench to score 13 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting, while hauling in nine rebounds. Esho was particularly effective running the baseline against the Eastern Michigan (7-7) zone, as his athleticism made him a mismatch in the paint to go along with his duties at the front of the full-court press.

“Right now, Maxie’s our best pressing guy and if the game is up and down and going, I think he’s very good, and I think I found a spot where I can play him in the zone, which is kind of along that baseline,” Kellogg said.

After the Minutemen (10-3) struggled early against the zone, Kellogg called upon the post players to set high screens for Williams at the top of the key, helping open up more holes under the basket and allowing Esho to capitalize on with easy buckets at the rim.

Esho feels his skill set fits well against the zone, as his athleticism was too much for the Eagles’ big men to handle.

“It was something that Chaz pointed out during the game,” Esho said of running the baseline behind the zone. “He told me to just keep running the baseline, so did Coach.”

Kellogg likes the option of Esho off the bench and feels his athleticism “is what separates him.”

“We go from being not so athletic when we start the game, or an OK athletic team, to when he comes in, all of a sudden we become very athletic,” Kellogg said. “One guy can make a difference with his energy and his ability to get on the front of the press.”

Stephen Sellner can be reached at ssellner@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Stephen_Sellner.

Leave A Comment