Massachusetts Daily Collegian

DeAndre Bembry has career day in win over UMass

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(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

The game plan for Wednesday’s game for the Massachusetts basketball team was fairly straightforward and simple: stop Deandre Bembry.

How’d the Minutemen do with that test?

If this were an actually written test, there would be a big, fat capital “F” in red ink written across the top with the message “see me.”

Bembry finished with a game-high 33 points and 14 rebounds to go along with his four assists as Saint Joseph’s defeated UMass 81-72 at Mullins Center. It was the third consecutive loss for Minutemen and their first home loss in over a month.

Bembry’s 33 points were just two shy of the record for a visiting player at Mullins Center.

“If we had a winning record, he would be an All-American,” Hawks head coach Phil Martelli said. “He seems like this old, mature player but he’s a sophomore in college. I’m delighted for him.”

Bembry played all 40 minutes for St. Joe’s, ran circles around the UMass defense all night long and no matter what it threw at him, he was able to beat it. Kellogg said they tried double-teaming him and had a series of different players try to guard him.

Nothing worked.

“I said it before the game, I think he’s the best player, or pretty close to the best player in our league and at least the two times we played them he looks like a guy that can play at the next level,” Kellogg said.

Bembry scored 20 of his points in the second half and grabbed nine of his 14 rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

His performance was summed up perfectly on the final two possessions of the game when he single-handedly beat the Minutemen press – finishing with a nifty Euro-step layup on the first, and a two handed dunk on the next.

On both occasions he took the ball 94-feet, breaking the press by himself, weaving in-and-out of all five UMass defenders. The Minutemen knew what was coming and simply couldn’t stop it.

“I love playing in-your-face teams. That’s how I learned to play the game,” Bembry said.

Although it was Bembry who stole the show, both he and Martelli said it was a team effort that helped carry St. Joe’s to victory. Isaiah Miles contributed with 15 points while Chris Wilson (13) and Aaron Brown (11) followed suit.

This wasn’t the first time Bembry torched the Minutemen as he had 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists against UMass in a Hawks win on Jan. 21.

“I can’t point out exactly what I’m doing right, but I’m just playing my game,” Bembry said about his success against the Minutemen. “I like the pressure. I like going by players and making plays for other players or myself. I can’t really tell you why it’s UMass.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Bembry was just a 60.2 percent free throw shooter. But he went 10-11 from the line in the contest, and was 3-4 shooting from 3-point range and 10-16 overall from the field.

Despite the numbers and awards Bembry’s received (and will receive as he moves forward), Martelli said none of that matters to him.

“At the end, he’ll be all-league but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s a champion. He was on the championship team and won rookie of the year. All those kind of (weekly awards) are great. He would trade all of those for the rings and the nets,” Martelli said.

“No one in this league will hear me scream and shout if he’s not player of the league. I get it. The player of the year should probably come from the best team. That’s not who we are. It’s not something that he worries about. When I talk to him about accolades and players of the week and he doesn’t care about that. He looks me in the eye and says ‘did we win.’”

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

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