Donte Clark, Seth Berger lift UMass men’s basketball in win over Holy Cross

By Philip Sanzo

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team escaped its contest with Holy Cross with a 68-60 victory in the DCU Center Sunday afternoon. Although the Minutemen came away with their third win of the season, they continue to show they have plenty to learn and improve on.

It took the Crusaders (0-3) six minutes, 22 seconds to score their first field goal, however by the end of the first half the two teams were tied at 27. The Minutemen finished the game with 23 turnovers and 23 personal fouls.

Veterans Donte Clark and Seth Berger scored 18 and 13 points respectively, coming through for the Minutemen (3-1) while freshmen like DeJon Jarreau (three points, six turnovers), Tyrn Flowers (zero points, 0-3 3-point shooting) and Chris Baldwin (zero points, five rebounds) had arguably their worst games of the season.

“We were fortunate enough to come away with a win at the end, but what you see is that we’re still young, we’ve got a ton of stuff to work on,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg told reporters after the game. “And if we’re going to play a group that I want to play, we’ve got to get the young guys better and more up to speed on what I’m trying to do.”

This was the fourth game in 10 days for the Minutemen (3-1), and that fatigue occasionally showed. Clark, being the veteran that he is, tried to take control of the game when his team began to struggle.

“I don’t know maybe we go a couple of stretches where we’re not getting something at the rim or something like that,” Clark told reporters. “Or if we’re not making our shots, I’ll probably get in there and drive and probably kick it out and then they knock the shot down and stuff like that. Or try to get a steal or something on defense.”

Kellogg has been clear with Clark as to what he expects from his junior guard.

“I’ve been more kind of direct with him on the amount of rebounds he should get the plays he should be making,” Kellogg said. “He’s actually much more further along this year on making the right plays. And some of it is he doesn’t have to do it all himself unlike in the past.”

The Minutemen started to separate themselves from the Crusaders toward the final seven minutes of the game. Clark and Berger went back and forth, making shots helping UMass reach a 13-point lead with 2:08 remaining. Zach Lewis also contributed as the redshirt junior scored 13 points including a couple of jumpers to pad the UMass’ lead.

“Yeah, we’ve got a nice group of juniors that have either been here or are a little bit older and more mature,” Kellogg said. “You know they play like seniors because they’ve been here and they’ve played.

“Donte’s played a ton of minutes as a freshman and sophomore and Seth when he has not been injured per say has been one of the guys that has been a rock for our team. So we’re a very young team, but we’re also mature in a few different positions and spot.”

Kellogg added: “teams are going to try to make it more difficult on him and be physical with him and do that stuff. And so it’s a good learning curve and wake up call for him and some of the other freshman. ‘This is not easy, this is going to be one of the toughest things you take on and you have to come everyday ready play and ready to go.’”

UMass will have a week to rest before they host Harvard next Saturday. 

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.