Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass defeats NJIT, improves to 3-0

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

A sloppy start found the Massachusetts men’s basketball team in the midst of a dogfight on Thursday night with New Jersey Institute of Technology, as UMass appeared to be headed into halftime deadlocked with the Highlanders.

Then the Minutemen started lighting it up from behind the arc.

UMass (3-0) ran off an 18-2 spurt over the final 4:37 of the first half which consisted of five three point buckets and an old-fashioned three-point play to break its tie with NJIT to grab its third consecutive win of the season, 79-58, at the Mullins Center.

During that span, sophomore Raphiael Putney connected on three-of-four from downtown and junior Terrell Vinson added a pair of 3-point field goals to pull the Minutemen out of their early funk.

Junior Javorn Farrell led the way for UMass, scoring a season-best 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Sophomore Chaz Williams added 15 points and 9 assists but was contained for the majority of play, while Vinson recorded his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The Highlanders (1-2) kept the Minutemen attack from getting out in transition, which had been so effective in their first two wins. UMass had to rely on its jump shooting for the first time this season, which contributed to its lower field goal percentage.

Despite its luck in the first from three, the second half told a different story, as the Minutemen missed its first 11 from beyond the arc.

“I wasn’t totally pleased with our offense, especially in the second half” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. “I thought we settled for way too many threes throughout the contest.”

It was clear NJIT’s game plan was to eliminate Williams and UMass’ transition game, as the Highlanders decided to forfeit crashing the offensive boards in favor of running back on defense.

The Minutemen were able to dominate the boards because of this, out-rebounding the Highlanders, 50-33.

Freshman Cady Lalanne grabbed 14 boards and contributed six points, as the newcomer continues to grow into an effective player coming off the bench.

“I think that shows that at some point down the line, he can be a big-time rebounder here,” said Kellogg.

“They had a lot of small guys on their team,” said Lalanne. “We felt like we have all these big guys, we should out-rebound them by a large margin.”

Junior Freddie Riley continued his early season woes offensively. Early on, he looked to create his offense but could only manage five points on 2-of-10 shooting.

“He came out like he was [going to] try to put up some big numbers tonight,” said Kellogg. “He was firing away from everywhere … I just told him if you’re a guy on this team, and I didn’t mention any names, that has the free rein to shoot the ball, then you should be in the gym working on your shooting everyday.”

UMass’ fast start to the season is encouraging, but much will be said about the team’s progress and capability when it travels to Boston College on Monday night and takes on No. 24 Florida State on Thanksgiving Day at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

Much of that hangs on the shoulders of Williams, who has dazzled his teammates and fans thus far with his playmaking ability, but was held to just one assist in the second half and gathered most of his points in garbage time when the game was out of reach.

“[Boston College has] their style and it’s one that’s hard to guard and really hard to get after but we’re going to need [Williams] to force tempo” said Kellogg.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Sellner.

 

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