UMass basketball opens season with 95-87 win over Siena

By Andrew Cyr

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Prior to tipoff, when the Massachusetts men’s basketball team played its introductory pump-up video on the video screen at the Mullins Center, Derek Kellogg had a simple phrase written on the whiteboard in the scenes of the team’s locker room.

“40 minutes of P.A.I.N.”

And while the Minutemen did not inflect pain for the games entirety, Friday night’s 95-87 win over Siena certainly required all 40 minutes to outlast the back-and-forth dogfight against the Saints.

UMass did it behind the performance of guard Trey Davis, who opened up the season by making a statement.

Davis finished with a game-high 28 points, including 4-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc, and 12-of-17 at the free throw line while playing in all but three minutes. Davis opened the game scoring 10 of the first 14 points for UMass, and fittingly enough ended the game making seven free throws in the final minute of play to secure the win for the Minutemen.

“I just wanted to be aggressive right out of the game,” Davis said. “I wanted to see if I could get my shot going early and that started opening up other things in my game.”

Despite Siena only outrebounding the Minutemen by four (43-39), it was Cady Lalanne’s impact in the second half that made the difference for UMass.

Lalanne picked up two early fours that forced him to play only five minutes in the opening half. He scored all 15 of his points, as well as nine of his 10 rebounds in the final 20 minutes.

Lalanne’s presence inside proved to much for the Saints, to which Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos and guard Rob Poole both believe Lalanne will be a second round pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Lalanne’s biggest play of the night came with 46 seconds remaining, when he blocked Siena’s Marquis Wright, which preserved UMass’ narrow 84-83 lead. Lalanne pinned Wright’s layup attempt against the backboard, and the Minutemen scored on their ensuing possession.

“The play that he blocked it was certainly a play that could have turned the tides for us,” Kellogg said.

UMass opened up the second half on a 9-0 run after trailing 41-36 at halftime. The Minutemen built a 58-50 lead, but the Saints whittled it down completely, tying the game 83-83 with one minute, 26 seconds remaining.

But UMass outlasted Siena down the stretch due to timely free throw shooting.

Patsos wasn’t pleased with Friday night’s officiating and put heavy emphasis on the Minutemen making 39-of-52 in his post game press conference.

Along with Davis and Lalanne, Maxie Esho and Derrick Gordon – the other two members of, as Kellogg calls it, “the big four,” – played well in the season opener. Esho finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes while Gordon finished with 17 points and nine rebounds himself.

“They’re going to have to carry us until the younger guys catch up a little bit,” said Kellogg.

Friday night marked the first time in nearly six years that Gordon played in front of his twin brother, Darryl, who was recently released from a five-year prison sentence, and also made history by being the first openly-gay Division I men’s basketball player to play in any colligate game.

“ I went into this like it was a regular game, it was good to see the support that I had and especially my family,” Gordon said.

Gordon, who shot just 52.8 percent from the free throw line last season, made 11-of-12 tonight including two with 18-seconds remaining to put UMass up 90-85 which put the game out of reach for Siena.

As Kellogg promised throughout the preseason, all 11 scholarship players saw action within the first ten minutes of the game. Although he was happy with his teams overall performance, he still believes they have a lot of work to do.

“We’re 1-0 against a very good team,” Kellogg said.

The Minutemen will have to make adjustments on the fly as they travel to the TD Garden to face Boston College on Sunday.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and can be followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.