UMass defeats Dayton, 55-50, in first conference game

By Herb Scribner

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The Massachusetts men’s basketball team could not have handpicked a better way to start off Atlantic 10 play than by defeating Dayton, last season’s National Invitational Tournament champions.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

On Sunday, the Minutemen (9-5, 1-0 A-10) battled the Flyers (13-4, 1-1 A-10) down to the very last tick of the clock, defeating their first A-10 opponent of this season, 55-50.

While UMass stayed ahead of the Flyers in the second half in rout to victory, it wasn’t without UD playing persistent basketball, keeping that kept the two sides in a near deadlock.

Neither team could find the basket in the second half, with the Flyers shooting 9-for-31 and UMass shooting 4-for-17 in the game’s final 20 minutes.

“It was the way we had to play to try and come out with a victory,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Just a good team effort where the guys bought into the game plan we had put in.”

“It was an ugly game, but it was the way we want it to be,” guard Gary Correia said. “We want it to be ugly. , Wwe want it to not look right. We want them to get confused a little bit, [and] our game plan worked.”

With poor shooting plaguing the Minutemen, the Maroon and White found a heavy amount of aid from the free throw line in the second half, going 20-for-27, as UD fell into foul trouble early on.

Furthermore, UMass kept up the defensive tempo to not allow the Flyers to make runs as the Minutemen held UD off on many transition plays.

“I thought we were as tough on the defensive floor as we have been all year,” Kellogg said.

Along with going to the free throw line and holding off the Flyers’ offense, UMass played a different style of basketball than typically seen. The Minutemen passed the ball several times before making runs at the hoop, and watered down the shot clock on each possession.

“I thought some of the guys were a little more effective in this style,” Kellogg said. “We needed to have a little more stability on the offensive end of the floor where we’re not turning the ball over. It’s basically scripted that you’re going to pass the ball a few times before making a play.”

Guard Anthony Gurley (15 points, four rebounds), who was silent in the first half with four points and two rebounds, lit up as he added 11 points to the UMass campaign in the second half.

Gary Correia made his return to the UMass lineup against the Flyers, after a smissing games due to a stomach illness that kept him off the court. Correia played 27 minutes on Sunday and scored five points with three assists.

Correia did more than just put up some numbers as he led the team on several plays and kept the Minutemen from falling apart under stress late in the affair.

Even with Sean Carter taking an elbow to the head and leaving the game, the Minutemen maintained their composure to finish out the contest.

Javorn Farrell (nine points, four rebounds) had a big contribution late in the game as converted on an and-one opportunity to give UMass a seven-point lead with less than 40 seconds remaining. Farrell’s score was one of the last true-scoring plays by the Minutemen in the second half.

“Javorn’s play, I thought was the game winner,” Kellogg said.

In the first half, the Minutemen held their own against the Flyers. Just over half way through the first 20 minutes of the game, UMass held at seven-point lead thanks to a crowd-pleasing 3-pointer by Freddie Riley.

The lead was quickly diminished following a UD timeout. Juwan Staten continued to play well on the court for the Flyers, nailing two straight baskets to keep UD from falling too far behind.

The Minutemen fought valiantly though the remainder of the first half, as they maintained the lead and finished the first half with a 26-18 advantage over the Flyers.

Terrell Vinson and Freddie Riley led the team with six and five points, respectively, at the end of the half, which did not feature strong shooting from either side. While UD went 7-for-25 from the field, with one 3-pointer made, UMass shot 8-for-27, but was perfect from the free throw line.

Part of the Minutemen success in the first half came from their rebounding total (25), which was more than double UD’s 12 total rebounds.

Additionally, UMass did well in the paint on both offensive and defensive sides of the floor. While on offense the Minutemen scored 10 points, they held the Flyers to one basket while inside the paint.

With Gurley silent in the opening half, the UMass bench picked up the slack, scoring nine total points, which included Riley’s five and baskets from Correia and Raphiel Putney.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]