UMass basketball buries Fordham

By Patrick Strohecker

Taylor C. Snow/Daily Collegian
Taylor C. Snow/Daily Collegian

For a brief moment, it looked like the Massachusetts men’s basketball team never fully recovered from its upset loss at Richmond on Wednesday night.

Hosting Fordham in front of 9,493 fans at Mullins Center on Sunday afternoon, No. 13 UMass spotted the Rams a 7-0 lead to open the game.

That was Fordham’s only positive moment for the game.

The Minutemen (17-2, 4-1 Atlantic 10) responded to the Rams’ (8-11, 1-5 A-10) run with a 20-2 run and never looked back, cruising to a 90-52 win. It’s the largest win in school history over Fordham.

“Especially coming off a loss last game, we wanted to come out and feel like we got our swagger back,” senior Chaz Williams said. “We felt like we weren’t playing UMass basketball and doing what we’re used to doing, so coming out today we just wanted to focus on executing coach’s game plan and doing what we’re used to doing.”

Williams scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, as the Minutemen coasted into the halftime break with a 40-24 lead.

With a healthy lead intact, UMass coach Derek Kellogg’s message at halftime was for his team to avoid complacency.

“I explained to them let’s not have them score a couple times, get [the lead] to nine, call a timeout,” he said. “No, let’s try to be the team that makes the run to start the half and put the game away and they were committed to that.”

The players responded, opening the half on a 17-0 run to push the lead to its largest of the season at 31 points. At that point, the sellout crowd was as loud as it was all game, making a Rams comeback impossible.

UMass doubled up Fordham when the score reached 65-32 midway through the second half. At that point, Kellogg went to freshmen Clyde Santee, Seth Berger and Demetrius Dyson to close out the game.

All three came in and contributed offensively, with Dyson recording his first career points. All 11 players that dressed and played in the game scored for the Minutemen.

UMass had four different scorers in double digits—Williams, Trey Davis, Raphiael Putney and Maxie Esho—but it was Davis’ performance down the stretch that really stood out in the blowout victory.

Davis played the final 13 minutes at point guard, leading the freshmen on offense and getting them involved while the upperclassmen were on the bench.

“I was just trying to get them all involved,” Davis said. “I was in those footsteps last year, being a freshman, so I knew they were a little nervous, but just talking to them and getting them involved is what I was trying to do.”

The Minutemen shot 52 percent from the field, a sizable improvement from Wednesday night’s 40 percent effort at Richmond.

The win moves UMass back into a tie for second place in the A-10, one game behind undefeated Saint Louis.

The Minutemen will look to build on this performance when they head to Olean, N.Y., to take on St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night

Patrick Strohecker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_Strohecker.