Minutemen lose in overtime to No. 24 Temple on senior night

By Jay Asser

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

When the final whistle blew, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team knew it hung with No. 24 Temple for two periods of basketball.

It was in the third period – the overtime period – where the Minutemen (15-13, 7-8 Atlantic 10) couldn’t keep up, as they fell, 73-67, on Wednesday night at the Mullins Center in UMass’ final home game of the season.

“I guess we came up a little bit short at the end,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We came out and played with some high energy and some high intensity.”

Although Kellogg seemed poised and calm during the press conference after the game, senior guard Gary Correia looked sorrowful after losing the Senior Night contest.

“I know it hurts, I’m dying inside right now, but the season’s not over,” Correia said.

Guard Anthony Gurley put on one of his best performances to date with 25 points. It may not have been his statistical best, but the energy and tenacity he brought was unparalleled by any other game this season.

“I had a lot of energy,” Gurley said.

Gurley’s energy reached a high-point as the clock expired in the first half as he sunk a Lebron James-esque 3-pointer to send the Minutemen into halftime with a four-point lead.

Forward Javorn Farrell was second behind Gurley in scoring with 13 points.

Gurley and Farrell were given top opportunities by Correia, who dished out six assists on the night. Although he was held to six points, Correia managed the ball from the top of the court and calmed down an electric Minutemen offense.

Gurley, Farrell and Correia led UMass against the nationally-ranked Owls (23-6, 13-2 A-10) at least for the first two halves. The trio played tight defense to contain Temple for the majority of the game.

When UMass contested inside drives and baskets, the Owls relied on their 3-point shooting to hang with the Minutemen. Temple shot 9-for-22 from beyond the arc, which included guard Juan Fernandez’s 4-for-9 shooting from the perimeter.

Fernandez (19 points) led a quartet of double-digit scorers including forward Lavoy Allen (14 points) and guards Aaron Brown (10 points) and Khalif Wyatt (10 points).

“Threes hurt across the board,” Correia said. “When a team’s hitting 3s on you, especially when you’re trying to open it up against a Top 25 team, there’s not really too much you can do about it.”

Kellogg explained that it was more than successful 3-point shooting from Temple that earned it the victory, emphasizing that the little things in the game proved to be quite substantial.

“I kind of explained to the guys all year that little things in college basketball are big things,” Kellogg said.

Some of the “little things” stemmed from the overtime period, when the Minutemen appeared tired and outmatched by the steaming Owls who continued to play composed throughout its first overtime period since Feb. 17, 2008.

“They actually outplayed us and took advantage of some things,” Kellogg said.

When it came time to play successfully in overtime, Correia said that the Minutemen contested baskets, but couldn’t find their way to the rim.

“I feel like we defended very well, we just couldn’t make plays down the stretch,” Correia said.

UMass maintained pace with the Owls, including the final two minutes of the second half, which featured some of the most dramatic basketball to date.

At the 1:45 mark, Correia nailed a 3-pointer that gave the Minutemen a short-lived lead, as forward Rahlir Jefferson hit two free throws to put Temple ahead again with 1:26 remaining.

Gurley limped away from the paint during the free throws, appearing injured. When Gurley returned from the bench seconds later, he faced a Minutemen crowd that thunderously chanted his name.

Using the crowd as fuel, Gurley stole the ball and tossed it up court. The ball stumbled past Farrell and went out of bounds on a play that could have given UMass a two-possession lead.

With the last possession of the half, Fernandez drove towards the net in hopes of ending the Minutemen’s 7-0 streak in Senior Night games. Sophomore Sampson Carter denied him of this with a game-saving block to send the game into overtime.

After putting out a top performance against the always-dangerous Temple team, the Minutemen head to Fordham for their last regular season game.

“[We’ve got to] take the positives out of the game, take how we played for the first 39 minutes and just try to apply it to our next one,” Correia said.

If the Minutemen defeat Fordham on Saturday, then they will return to the Mullins Center for the first round game in the conference tournament next Tuesday.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]