Jabarie Hinds gives UMass men’s basketball a lift in upset win over VCU

By Anthony Chiusano

(Mirei Seki/Daily Collegian)
(Mirei Seki/Daily Collegian)

It’s been a bit of a struggle for Massachusetts point guard Jabarie Hinds for much of this season.

After opening the year with four 20-point performances over the first six games, the senior has taken on a sixth-man role of late following a prolonged stretch of shooting struggles starting with an 0-of-5 performance against Mississippi Dec. 5.

But it was Hinds who stepped up for the Minutemen (10-13, 3-8 Atlantic 10) Thursday night and provided a much-needed third scoring option alongside guards Donte Clark (22 points) and Trey Davis (18 points) in UMass’ 69-63 upset victory over Virginia Commonwealth (17-7, 9-2 A-10).

Hinds finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with seven assists and five steals in 32 minutes off the bench – one minute less than Clark’s game-high 33. His point total was his largest since Dec. 2 and his efficiency (70 percent shooting) marks his season-high.

“I thought Hinds was the key tonight. He killed us,” VCU coach Will Wade said. “I know he didn’t score as many as Clark and scored the same as Davis, but I thought Hinds really, really hurt us. I thought he controlled the game.

“We were on his hip the whole time and he was getting angles and making plays. He really stepped up and played well. I know he’s kind of been in and out of the doghouse or whatever you want to call it, but he was really, really good tonight.”

Hinds attributed his success Thursday to his early jolt on defense, as he recorded three of his steals in the first half and led multiple fast break opportunities off Rams turnovers. During the Minutemen’s 13-0 run midway through the first half – which opened up a 32-19 lead – Hinds had four assists.

“I was just playing defense, talking. We were taking away stuff that they were comfortable doing and it really worked out,” Hinds said. “It started off with defense. I knew I had to focus in because JeQuan Lewis is a good point guard. He likes to get in the lane and get the ball out (to the wings) and also scores the ball. I just wanted to make it hard on him.”

UMass coach Derek Kellogg said Hinds was “fantastic” Thursday and added he looked like the player who was the Minutemen’s leading scorer and catalyst on offense for the first month of non-conference play.

“Jabarie’s stayed the course. He got some shots to fall, he started feeling a little more comfortable out there and I think you’ll see the Jabarie we all know and love down the stretch here,” Kellogg said. “He’s worked hard. And sometimes you get in some ruts or you don’t play as well as you want at times, but he didn’t frown or cry when he went to the bench. He’s played his best basketball the last couple of days.”

With VCU closing the gap in the second half, tying the game at 52-52 with six minutes, 19 seconds remaining, Hinds continued to bring energy and helped UMass defend the lead down the stretch.

On the Minutemen’s ensuing possession, Hinds found Clark for a corner 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to recapture the lead for good.

“I tried to make a move and it slipped and then I saw him. He ran toward the corner and that’s where I was going, so I just tipped it to him,” Hinds said. “I didn’t see what happened but he shot that and it went in.”

Clark added: “I wasn’t looking to try to make a momentum play, I think it just fell in my hands and I had no other choice but to shoot it with the shot clock going down.”

Hinds then scored four points and added two assists over the final five minutes of regulation. With Thursday’s win, UMass is now 7-0 this season when Hinds scores at least 17 points.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.