Offense sluggish for sinking Minutemen

By Herb Scribner

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On Sunday afternoon at the Mullins Center, both the Massachusetts men’s basketball team and George Washington went an alternate route as neither produced offensively well, which resulted in the Minutemen’s 59-51 loss to GW.

Whether it was UMass’ shots from the field (14-for-46), free throws (17-for-27) or 3-pointers (6-for-18), the offensive spark was absent against the Colonials on Sunday.

As the Minutemen focused heavily on defense, they failed to score in transition and did not convert on a slew of offensive opportunities.

“When you play such good defense you also have to be able to score some on transition and I thought our transition offense was non-existent at times,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg.

More troubling for UMass came from its usual go-to scorer in guard Anthony Gurley (seven points, seven rebounds), as he failed to score in double-digits for the first time this season, going 2-for-15 from the field.

“We [would have] loved for Anthony to have 20 points … but we’ve got to find ways to win without him,” said guard Gary Correia. “We’ve got to figure out a way to score without him.”

Correia provided a heavy amount of UMass’ offense, scoring 15 points to aid the Maroon and White.

Javorn Farrell shot 2-for-11 from the field against the Colonials, with his misses including layups that could have easily gone into the hoop.

“We need variety,” said Kellogg. “[We need] Javorn and Anthony to play well for us, to really go and when I say that I mean shoot a high percentage or just don’t shoot so much.”

Farrell’s missed shots weren’t the only ones to fall short, as multiple put-back opportunities by center Sean Carter went awry as well, staring early in the game.

The Minutemen couldn’t get hot from the get go, as they shot 2-for-15 through the first 13 minutes, and reached double-digit scoring with seven minutes, 52 seconds remaining on the clock, when forward Raphiael Putney sank a 3-pointer.

UMass seemed to be cursed all night when it came to the offensive, as Gurley had an open look from beyond the arc and the ball got caught in between the hoop and the backboard.

Through the first 14 minutes, Correia was outscoring the Colonials, 5-4. This soon changed however as both teams caught a bit of fire to up the score to 24-18 at the end of the first half, putting them on pace to finish 48-36. The lowest amount of points the Minutemen have scored all season was 48 in a non-conference game against Texas Christian.

Carter couldn’t return a few missed baskets with his opportunities either. On three occasions in the first half, Carter went up to tip the ball back into the net, but failed to make the points happen.

UMass entered the locker room at halftime with 7-for-20 shooting with frequent scorers Gurley and Farrell failing to contribute offensively, going a combined 1-for-10 from the field in the first half.

While the Minutemen scored more points in the second half (three more points), their shooting percentage dropped from 35 percent to shy of 27 percent, with their 3-point shooting going from 50 to 20 percent.

The UMass bench barely got involved in the second half, as Sampson Carter scored two free throws at the end of the game to give the bench its only points in the second half.

Gurley didn’t have a point until midway through the second half when he went on a run to score his seven points in the contest. As a top scorer on UMass and one of the leading scorers in the A-10, his lack of scoring is certainly troubling for the Minutemen. This marks the second game in a row where Gurley has been limited to 10 points or less.

With Gurley’s ailing offense, and the Minutemen’s nine-point loss, Kellogg and the rest of the Minutemen can only look forward to the rest of the schedule which they hope will give a chance to retool the team’s offense.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected].