Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday

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(Imogen Fairs/ Daily Collegian)

(Imogen Fairs/ Daily Collegian)

With the exception of a few short moments toward the beginning and end of its game against Fordham Saturday afternoon, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team played catch-up for the majority of the 40 minutes of play as UMass fell 71-68 to the Rams.

Fordham is not an offensive juggernaut by any means; however UMass’ 19 turnovers allowed the Rams to maintain the lead throughout the game. The Rams (9-11, 3-4 Atlantic 10) scored 28 points off of turnovers, on average this season UMass has given up 13.15 points when they’ve turned the ball over.

This has been an unfavorable trend for the Minutemen (12-8, 2-5 Atlantic 10) most of the season.

Entering the game against Fordham, UMass led the A-10 in turnovers with 285, an average of 15 per game. With Saturday’s game, that total is now up to 304.

DeJon Jarreau has committed the most turnovers on the Minutemen with 62 and Donte Clark is not far behind with 58.

Of Jarreau’s 62 turnovers, eight came in the loss to Fordham, a season-high for the freshman point guard.

The Rams’ strength this season has been their defense and the team’s 14 steals showed that. According to Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer, that defense was crucial to defeating the Minutemen.

“Well that is a big part of our defense, we’re second in the country in steals and so we got 14 today,” Neubauer said. “Our average is about 11. But that’s huge for us, we have to do that, we have to steal the ball, so our pressure was effective.”

Fordham’s ability to effectively steal the ball contributed to UMass’ 19 turnovers; however errant passes and silly decisions on the part of the UMass backcourt arguably is what held the Minutemen back.

“Obviously 18 turnovers … It felt like we had fast breaks turn into turnovers going the other way, especially in the first half,” Coach Derek Kellogg said. “In the second half we executed better against that kind of funky zone.”

“We had some good things from some guys, but 16 turnovers from our starting back court, which is way too many.”

These mistakes loom even larger given the fact that the Minutemen shot 51.1 percent, their best shooting performance in conference play thus far.

“I mean we’ve had a couple of those games so hopefully we make a change instead of trying to think back on what we could of did instead next game just doing it,” Clark said.

The focus on making smarter decisions with the ball and limiting the number of turnovers already makes up the majority of practice for UMass according to Kellogg.

“Well we focus on turnovers and shot selection about 70 percent of the practice right now,” Kellogg said. “So we have to probably do a better job of working on that. You know they kind of run at the ball and you have to make basketball plays and decisions. I think it’s a good defense for how they want to play. But I thought in the second half we kind of picked it apart. It was more not making the right play a few times and defensively coming up with those long rebounds.”

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