UMass men’s basketball can’t find shooting stroke from deep in Wednesday loss to Saint Joseph’s

By Anthony Chiusano

(Mirei Sekei/Daily Collegian)
(Mirei Sekei/Daily Collegian)

In last Sunday’s game against George Mason, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team benefitted from a 1-of-18 3-point shooting performance from the Patriots to survive in a 70-64 victory.

But in Wednesday night’s battle with Saint Joseph’s at Mullins Center, the Minutemen’s fortunes reversed, as a 2-for-22 night from deep highlighted their struggles in a 74-57 loss to the Hawks.

“I think you guys understand that at times we’ve shot 2-for-22 from 3. That’s probably been a tough shooting night for us to overcome,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said after the loss. “We did some decent stuff but not enough to beat a really good team.”

UMass (12-15, 5-10 Atlantic 10) had a small window of opportunity with six minutes, 14 seconds left when a layup from Donte Clark trimmed the St. Joe’s (23-5, 12-3 A-10) lead to eight with Hawks all-conference forward DeAndre Bembry sitting on the bench with four fouls.

But 32 seconds later, Bembry checked back into the game and helped spark a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach over the final three minutes.

“That happens a lot of times when your best player comes back in. He’s pretty mature with the way he plays and I think he settles them down,” Kellogg said. “The way he operates with his teammates, I think he’s a calming influence. They know he’s a good player. When I saw him come back in, I thought he was going to help them settle some things down.”

Bembry finished with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting while Isaiah Miles chipped in a team-high 20 points and Aaron Brown added 14 as the Hawks are now tied for first place in the A-10.

For UMass, Donte Clark (20) and Jabarie Hinds (19) were the only two Minutemen to reach double figures, as leading scorer Trey Davis struggled all night en route to finishing with four points on 2-of-12 shooting.

St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli credited freshman Lamarr Kimble and sophomore Shavar Newkirk with limiting Davis and added that the backcourt as a whole did a good job guarding the 3-point line against the Minutemen.

“It’s a big deal,” Martelli said. “We had to take away the 3, and in Philadelphia (in their head-to-head matchup Jan. 27), we didn’t do a very good job of that … They just didn’t go in (Wednesday).”

Clark found most of his success driving into the lane and finishing layups or getting to the free throw line where he was 7-of-10. The sophomore was the only Minuteman to shoot free throws Wednesday.

Clark said Bembry’s early foul trouble played a factor in his constant drives to the basket, as he tried to take advantage of the fellow Charlotte, North Carolina native’s situation.

“I would say that’s usually how I try to play — aggressive,” Clark said. “But yeah, (Bembry) was in foul trouble. We were trying to get him out of the game, so I kept trying to attack him.”

Similar to the two teams’ first matchup this year on Jan. 27, a 78-70 Hawks win, UMass kept the game close and trailed 35-31 at halftime.

According to Martelli, the difference in the second half was St. Joe’s low turnover total (10) and efficient defense.

“We made a slight adjustment at halftime to do something with the ball screen and I really thought we locked down,” he said. “We have to play better, we missed a lot of layups and we settled at times for shots. But we were back to our way. We didn’t turn it over, we (didn’t) foul and we guarded the 3-point line.”

Wednesday’s matchup wrapped up a two-game homestand for UMass this week, as the Minutemen next travel to Olean, New York for a rematch against St. Bonaventure Saturday at 4 p.m. UMass fell 88-77 in their first matchup on Jan. 9.

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