Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

George Washington throttles UMass in regular season finale

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Massachusetts men’s basketball team unraveled against George Washington.

Like an avalanche, it didn’t take much to set it off. A blown defensive assignment here, a missed pass offensively there. A string of poor possessions multiplied the anxiety and stress growing along the UMass bench like snow picking up steam.

Some UMass players stomped their feet, others yelled in frustration. Coaches pointed and frantically tried to adjust, but it didn’t matter.

Once the Colonials realized what sat in front of them – a fragile, listless Minutemen team – they capitalized, igniting on a prolific shooting run, storming down the mountain at a UMass team stuck in the cross hairs.

The Minutemen were buried, stuck, trapped – helpless under the weight of growing offensive pressure from George Washington. When it was all said and done, the Colonials were the victors, 87-65 in front of 3,867 at the Charles E. Smith Center Saturday afternoon. And it never felt that close.

“It snowballs sometimes,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

“I thought our effort was good for a while, and then when we got some body blows thrown, we didn’t counter back. Those body blows turned into big blows and when those big blows start hitting you it’s tough to recover.”

The loss dropped UMass (17-14, 10-8 Atlantic 10 Conference) behind the Colonials within the conference, guaranteeing the Minutemen No. 8 seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 tournament, which starts Wednesday. They’ll face La Salle Thursday at noon.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Kellogg spoke of the importance of simply playing well in preparation for the conference tournament. Instead, the Minutemen lost convincingly.

“Yeah, I’m concerned a little bit,” Kellogg said. “We haven’t played well. It just doesn’t seem like it’s all one moving part right now … it’s some things that I kind of wish weren’t going on right this second.”

On Saturday, George Washington (20-11, 10-8 A-10) barely missed.

The Colonials went 9-of-10 on 3-pointers in the first half, scored the final 18 points of the frame and led 50-28 at halftime. The Minutemen actually led 14-9 with 11:42 remaining in the first half, but a 12-2 George Washington run – sparked by three different 3-pointers – stunned UMass.

Even then, the Minutemen didn’t officially fold, at least not yet. They cut the Colonials deficit to 3 and trailed 32-27 at one point.

But George Washington persisted.

Colonials reserve Paul Jorgensen nailed a 3-pointer and UMass forward Maxie Esho committed an offensive foul. Yuta Watanabe answered with a 3-pointer, Jorgensen hit another jump shot and it was suddenly 40-27 with 2:56 remaining.

It got worse.

UMass committed two turnovers, allowed two more 3s to Watanabe and didn’t score a point over the final 4:37. The half ended fittingly, with UMass guard Derrick Gordon taking an ill-advised jump shot with nine seconds left instead of holding for the last shot.

The lapse allowed the Colonials one more possession and guard Kethan Savage took advantage, dribbling coast-to-coast for an easy layup as the half ended. It was 50-28, and a total implosion.

“That was a first half that I’d like to forget,” Kellogg said. “I thought the wheels came off on both ends of the floor.”

By game’s end, George Washington was 14-of-18 on 3-pointers and shot 60 percent from the field. Watanabe was 7-for-10 from 3s alone, finishing with 21 points. Five different Colonials players scored in double-digits.

“That was pretty aggravating,” said UMass center Cady Lalanne. “They were just kicking up and every shot they put up they made. That was pretty annoying.”

Donte Clark led UMass with 12 points, while Jabarie Hinds and Maxie Esho added 11 each.

Kellogg said the team is trying to do too much, and that he’s seen players pressing some at the end of the season. He said at this point, it’s about getting his players to commit to getting back to basics and making a run in the conference tournament.

“It’s a gut check time, honestly,” Kellogg said.

“It’s a gut check time. It’s time for the players to say ‘Do you want to make a push down there in Brooklyn and see if we can make something happen?’ That’s the push. And I think we got some talent in there, I think the guys are good kids. But you have to dig down deep now and say ‘Where are we at?’

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

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    Tony DennisMar 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    good article objectively for a game lost.