Smooth landing

By Herb Scribner

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Maybe the Massachusetts men’s basketball team should have travel issues more often.

Whether it was the delayed landing or not, the Minutemen (12-7, 4-2 Atlantic 10) earned another conference victory, 78-69, against Saint Bonaventure on Wednesday night.

“It was a good road win after a weird couple of days tying to get here,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

“I thought that was a good basketball game and both teams played really hard,” Kellogg continued. “I thought our UMass team played, I don’t want to say as well as we can, but almost as good as we can as far as how we attacked offensively.”

UMass relied heavily on Anthony Gurley (28 points) to get the job done against the Bonnies. This is the 17th time in the last 19 games that Gurley has led the Minutemen in scoring.

”The last couple of days haven’t been easy for us but we stuck together as a family, and as a team … I couldn’t be happier,” Gurley said.

Gurley wasn’t the only high scorer for the Minutemen though, as first half efforts by Javorn Farrell (16 points) gave them some baskets before Gurley took over the game.

“He played like a senior, he played like a big-time player today,” Kellogg said.

The Minutemen controlled the first five minutes of the second half until the Bonnies started a run to close the once 11-point gap down to two following a Michael Davenport 3-pointer.

Davenport’s lead-slimmer did little though for the game as the Maroon and White picked up the pace and led the way for a 12-2 run to fly past the Bonnies.

The game featured a well-shooting Minutemen side (28-for-53), however their 3-point shooting suffered (near 33 percent) as the result of the Bonnies defense.

Kellogg attributed much of the success to the seniors of the squad.

“I hope that it shows that we’re maturing some,” Kellogg said.

The Minutemen jumped out early in the first half, conjuring a 10-point lead with nine minutes remaining until halftime off 9-for-18 shooting and going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc within that time span.

While the lead shortened to eight points before half, UMass held on due to its variety in scorers as nine players contributed in the first 20 minutes. Gurley and Correia led the team with eight and six points, respectively.

The Minutemen shot 16-for-31 in the first half, going 4-for-9 from the perimeter. The bench helped UMass shoot well during the first half as they contributed 10 points.

Rebounding proved to be influential for the Minutemen with both Sampson and Sean Carter leading the charge (four rebounds each). Seven of UMass’ 15 rebounds came on the offensive side of the floor.

Unlike their recent performances, the Minutemen put away 10 second-chance points against the Bonnies in the first to help add to their lead.

Defensively, UMass held SBU from making any dangerous moves towards the lead. The Bonnies shot 8-for-25 in the first, with a pair of points coming from the bench and the same amount from second-chance opportunities.

The Minutemen will have another shot at downing an A-10 opponent when they take on Rhode Island on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]