Massachusetts Daily Collegian

DeJon Jarreau finds redemption with game on line after Ole Miss letdown

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(Mayank Mishra/ Daily Collegian)

(Mayank Mishra/ Daily Collegian)

Monday night against Mississippi, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team and the Rebels were tied 88-88 as the Minutemen had the ball in their hands and a chance to pull off a big win on the road with a last-minute shot.

UMass (2-1) drove the ball down the court and got the ball to its hot hand, freshman DeJon Jarreau, who already had 25 points on the day. In what was possibly the biggest shot of his life, the freshman let go of the ball in hopes of grabbing the momentum toward a Minutemen victory.

The milliseconds felt like hours with the ball in the air, however his shot hit the rim and trickled into Ole Miss guard Rasheed Brooks’ arms. UMass would go on to lose that game, 90-88.

Fast forward three days to Thursday night’s matchup with Temple (1-2) and Jarreau was in practically the same spot on the court with the ball in his hands. With the score at 67-65 in favor of the Owls with 34 seconds on the clock, Jarreau had the choice to either drive to the basket or take the 3-pointer for the lead.

The New Orleans native chose the latter and this time as Jarreau made the most of his opportunity, and knocking down the eventual game-winning 3-pointer as the Mullins Center crowd erupted.

“It felt good. I always wanted to hit a game-winner, a go-ahead bucket,” Jarreau said. “I always wanted to do that, so to do it in college, that’s fulfilling my dreams right now. I’m just happy I could be able to take that shot and be confident in it.”

After a missed Temple 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, Jarreau would add a layup to ice the game as the Minutemen went on to a 70-67 win over the Owls.

He had hit game-winners in the past, but for the freshman this one was much more special.

“In high school, I hit one before – a layup though, a drive and a layup – but this is big because on the collegiate level and it was a 3,” Jarreau said.

Coming off such a heartbreaking loss against the Rebels just three days before, Thursday’s win felt good for UMass.

“I’m proud of the guys after a heart breaker down in Ole Miss to at least come back and show some fight and toughness against what I think is a really good team that is going to continue to get better,” Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg said.

UMass seemed to tighten up at the end of Monday’s game and Kellogg was impressed with how much his team flipped the script on Thursday and handled the tough situation they were in at the end of the game.

“We mentally talked about it, I think the guys really took how we closed out the last game to heart and so to see them kind of just play. You don’t have to tighten up, it’s a college basketball game, ‘go play,’” Kellogg said. “And I thought they did that, and it was nice to see them come up with some big rebounds at the end. I thought Temple made plays too. They made some plays. They had a little floater to go up and we kind of responded.”

The Minutemen figure to find themselves in a lot of close games during the season, so having a game like this early on will be incredibly helpful moving forward.

“We’ll be tested like this later on during the season. So to prove that we have the grit and the toughness and to win that game is huge,” forward Seth Berger said. “It shows our toughness that can pull a game out like that where it’s going back and forth – the game isn’t won until the last second like that.”

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34.

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