Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

No. 10 Xavier outlasts Minutemen

P.J. Stanley/Collegian

For an instant, it appeared the Massachusetts men’s basketball team was headed to overtime against the best team in the Atlantic 10 when Chris Lowe nailed a game-tying 3-pointer with four seconds left.

However, a referee called a foul on the floor before the shot was attempted, the 3-pointer was nullified and Lowe had to shoot two free-throws with the Minutemen down by three.

Lowe made the first and intentionally missed the second to give UMass an opportunity to grab the rebound. Tony Gaffney almost tipped it in, but it bounced just out of the hoop as UMass lost an 82-80 nail-biter to No. 10 Xavier (19-2, 7-0 A-10 Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati, Ohio.

‘We were trying to get the ball to hit off the left side of the basket and we got a pretty good tip at it,’ UMass coach Derek Kellogg said, looking for a similar last-second tip-in off a missed free throw that the Minutemen got against Boston College on Dec. 6 that forced overtime.

It was a cruel finish for the Minutemen (7-12, 2-4 A-10), who played Xavier down to the wire and forced the Musketeers into a season-high 23 turnovers and scored 36 points off the takeaways.

‘We stepped up the [defensive] heat in the second half. They were too big and too athletic for us to guard close to the basket,’ Kellogg said. ‘So we decided to pick up their guards in the full court.’

Xavier shot a scorching 59.6 percent from the field in the game and got big games out of Derrick Brown (tied his career-high with 23 points), B.J. Raymond (22) and C.J. Anderson (19) to lead the Musketeers to their 10th straight victory.

Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with 17 points with Lowe right behind him with 16 points to go along with seven assists. Luke Bonner (14) and Anthony Gurley (10) also added double-figures for the Minutemen.

The game featured 14 lead changes throughout and neither team gained a lead of more than three in the last nine minutes until Xavier went up 78-74 with under one minute remaining. Harris hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to one point with 45 seconds left, but on UMass’ next possession missed the potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the game. Xavier grabbed the rebound and the game turned into a free-throw shooting contest in which the Minutemen were always one-point behind.

Gaffney nearly earned yet another double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds, but despite his efforts the Musketeers out-rebounded UMass 37-26 ‘- although the Minutemen did get 13 offensive rebounds while Xavier grabbed seven.

This game was played at a blistering pace early and it seemed as though neither team could miss. The Minutemen opened up the game shooting 9-for-13 as even Gaffney hit a 3-pointer, but Xavier made 9-for-14 as both sides traded leads with defense being an afterthought.

It appeared Xavier was starting to run away with the game late in the first half as it opened up a 10-point lead with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the first half. UMass entered the half down 44-37.

Xavier’s lead hovered between six and eight points until UMass went on a 10-2 run started by a Bonner 3-pointer with 13:24 left in the game. Harris then scored five unanswered points and Lowe stole the ball for an easy layup to tie the game at 58 with 11 minutes remaining. From then on the game was tightly contested until the final seconds.

The Minutemen were looking to add another win over a top team in their conference ‘- they have wins over Dayton (75-62 on Jan. 10) and Temple (79-75 on Jan. 17). A win against Xavier would have given them wins over the three top teams in the conference in RPI.

UMass will look to regroup when it hosts Richmond on Feb. 4.

Games notes

Lowe now has 999 career points, the free-throw he intentionally missed would have given him 1,000 ‘hellip; Saturday’s loss dropped the Minutemen to 1-8 on the road this season ‘hellip; Gaffney has led UMass in rebounds in 14 of their 19 games this season.

Scott Feldman can be reached at [email protected].

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