UMass basketball falls to Bonnies in sloppy fashion
The No. 21 Massachusetts men’s basketball team may want to rename the Reilly Center its personal house of horrors.
UMass (17-3, 4-2 Atlantic 10) came up empty for the second year in a row, falling to St. Bonaventure 78-65 on Wednesday in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd. The victory was the Bonnies’ first over a ranked opponent since they defeated Temple in 2000.
“I thought (St. Bonaventure) was the better team tonight,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said in a postgame radio interview. “(They) were tougher, rougher around the rim and they got to the free throw line a bunch, kind of like last year.”
The Bonnies (13-8, 3-4 A-10) outrebounded UMass 45-35, including 20 offensive rebounds. The Minutemen also ran into serious foul trouble. St. Bonaventure went 30-of-34 from the free throw line and UMass point guard Chaz Williams spent most of the second half on the bench with four fouls before fouling out with 1:39 remaining.
For long stretches, the Minutemen followed an all-too-familiar script, struggling to find their offensive stride and falling behind by as much as nine points early in the second half. But a Raphiael Putney steal and thunderous transition dunk narrowed the St. Bonaventure lead to just 53-51 with eight minutes, 47 seconds remaining. It was the type of late push that eerily mirrored the outcome of UMass’ 73-68 comeback victory over the Bonnies just 18 days ago.
This time, St. Bonaventure had other plans.
The Bonnies outscored the Minutemen 25-14 from that point, wrestling the momentum away from a UMass team that struggled down the stretch. St. Bonaventure guard Andell Cumberbatch banked in a 3-pointer with 7:23 to go and little time left on the shot clock to give the Bonnies a 58-54 lead.
“That banked three from (Cumberbatch) was just a killer,” Kellogg said. “That was kind of a road shot that goes in when you’re on the road and I guess things aren’t going your way for an evening.”
Bonnies guard Matthew Wright played to a delirious Reilly Center crowd with just 55 seconds remaining, nailing a 3-pointer off a screen to bump the lead to 72-63. He finished with 11 points. Five different St. Bonaventure players scored in double-figures, with guard Charlon Kloof leading the way with 14 points.
The Minutemen struggled to maintain momentum in the second half on the glass. Sampson Carter and Cady Lalanne both registered a team-high of just seven rebounds.
“When you get the game going the way you want it to, you cannot keep giving up second chance opportunities,” Kellogg said. “I think they had 20 rebounds; that’s really unacceptable. And that comes down to crackdowns and a little bit of toughness around the rim, and a few of our guys just gotta play better.”
Much of the second-half offense operated through the hands of reserve guard Trey Davis, who took over when Williams was in trouble due to a foul. Davis led all scorers with 18 points. Williams finished with just 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Both Williams and Maxie Esho fouled out of the game.
Neither team shot particularly well from the floor. The Bonnies shot 37 percent from the field for the game, but UMass couldn’t capitalize, committing 17 turnovers, which turned into 20 St. Bonaventure points. The Bonnies led 26-25 at halftime.
“We need to get back to being more of the team that’s hunting people,” Kellogg said. “That’s going after people on both ends of the floor and coming at you. There were a few times it looked like we didn’t have that extra juice and they were still coming at us.”
Mark Chiarelli can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli