Hawks soar past Minutemen Saturday, 67-64

By Herb Scribner

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Mike Wood/Collegian

Mike Wood/Collegian

Every constant for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team was absent Saturday night, as the Minutemen fell, 67-64, to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

UMass (13-9, 5-4 Atlantic 10) let the Hawks (6-17, 1-8 A-10) walk away with their first victory in conference play, ending their nine-game losing streak.

“We didn’t have that moxie, that something you can’t put your finger on,” Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg said.

When UMass found itself down 13 points, sophomore guard Freddie Riley went on a 3-point shooting spree, cutting the deficit to one.

The comeback for the Minutemen continued through the rest of the game. Down five points with 20 seconds left, Javorn Farrell hit one of two free throws, cutting the Hawks’ lead to four. After Sean Carter grabbed an offensive rebound, Anthony Gurley hit a game-saving 3-pointer to cut the deficit down to one.

Junior forward Matt Hill had a 1-and-1 situation with a chance to save UMass, but the cards were not in the Minutemen’s favor, and the Hawks held on to secure the victory.

“We played right into their hands,” said Kellogg.

The loss came despite the absence of SJU’s top player, Carl Jones, who sat out the game due to injury. Conversely, the Minutemen’s typical top player, Anthony Gurley, underperformed, as he scored a season-low 10 points.

“They stay connected with him,” Kellogg said. “They really just stuck with one guy on him and really made the game hard on Anthony. He gets a little frustrated at times.”

Gurley’s slack was picked up by Riley, who tried to push the Minutemen back into the game. Riley finished the game with 14 points.

Junior center Sean Carter secured a season-high 15 rebounds to complement his seven points. However, he wasn’t the only one with double-digits on the boards, as Javorn Farrell nabbed 10 rebounds of his own.

Despite out-rebounding the Hawks by 20, Kellogg didn’t see that stat as anything out of the ordinary.

“All and all, there were just too many little things that we didn’t execute on,” said Kellogg.

UMass continued to perform well in rebounds, but its shot selection was lacking, as the team shot 24-for-57, including 10-for-24 from beyond the arc. Gurley was limited to eight shots on the contest.

With the Minutemen offense shooting around 42 percent for the game, their defense couldn’t stop the Hawks’ unloading of 3-pointers. In the absence of Jones, Langston Galloway went a perfect 6-for-6 from the perimeter.

The loss drops the Minutemen down to seventh in the conference, which still puts them in the playoff picture (12 of the 14 teams make the playoffs).

“Contrary to what you guys believe, we’re a good basketball team,” said Kellogg.

The fall at SJU is the second in a row for UMass, and the team’s third in five games. Both were road losses, bringing the Minutemen’s once undefeated conference-road record to 3-2.

The Minutemen will return back to Amherst on Sunday for its next contest against George Washington. After the Colonials, the Minutemen will remain home to take on the A-10 leader, Duquesne.

“A week off without any games, I think is good for us,” said Kellogg. “It just felt like we were on the road for so many days.”

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]