UMass men’s basketball drops its third straight game in 76-74 loss to George Mason

By Philip Sanzo

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(Chris O'Keefe/ Daily Collegian)

(Chris O’Keefe/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team is eager for a win. On Saturday afternoon against George Mason, it once again came down to the final seconds.

Otis Livingston went to the line with four seconds left on the clock to shoot a one-and-one. The shot ricocheted off the rim and DeJon Jarreau picked up the rebound. He hurried down the court and passed the ball out left to C.J. Anderson, wide open in three-point range. The shot went up but not in and the Minutemen dropped their seventh Atlantic 10 game 76-74. The loss puts the Minutemen at 12-10, 2-7 in the A-10.

“I thought I hit it,” Anderson would say afterwards.

Livingston, who had 22 points, is the George Mason (14-7, 4-4 A-10) all time leader in free throw percentage with .831. His miss was golden opportunity for UMass to win the game.

This is just the latest loss in a series of disappointing endings for the Minutemen in this season’s conference play.

Spoiled opportunities kept the Minutemen one or two scores away from tying the game for the entirety of the second half.

The Minutemen were 10-29 from 3-point range and made only eight of their 17 free throws.
Junior guard Donte Clark went 1-5 from the free throw line including two misses with 1:59 remaining, where had he made both UMass would have tied the game at 70.

“I thought at the end of the game we executed just about everything,” Coach Derek Kellogg said. “I told the guys in the timeouts, we just didn’t make a few of the plays, missed a couple free throws and then they executed a late-game free throw miss to get try to get a 3 off that was wide open.”

The Minutemen shot 41.8 percent from the field for the game, including a 44.1 percent mark in the second half.

Much like Anderson, Kellogg thought the shot was good when it left his guard’s hand.

“You don’t really want to know,” Kellogg said. “I actually thought it was in. It was kind of right on line. I was feeling pretty good. When it doesn’t go in, obviously all the 39 (minutes) and 58 seconds of a game kind of comes down to that. It gives you a great satisfaction or a punch in the gut and right now, I’ve got a bunch of punches in the gut. I know the guys feel the same way.”

As Kellogg had mentioned, late missed opportunities ultimately cost UMass the game. With nine A-10 games remaining in the regular season, exactly half of the season’s slate, UMass has time to build off their mistakes. According to Clark, the majority of the mistakes are minor.

“Yeah I think we can build off the good things,” Clark said. “I don’t wanna say we’re doing a lot of bad things, but we’re making some minor mistakes that are hurting us. Like towards the end of the game and stuff like that and throughout the game and probably the way we started off games, sometimes we start off kind of slow which gives the team confidence and they take the lead and we’re playing from behind.”

Clark was out of the starting lineup in place for Anderson for the first time all season, but still made a respectable contribution. In 32 minutes off the bench he led the team in points with 13 and, according to Kellogg, did a fine job guarding GMU guard Marquise Moore who only scored 10 points, all of which came in the second half.

“It was more Donte and I had talked for a little bit, we had a good conversation and I think sometimes when he’s kind of our team leader, you press a little bit and I just wanted to bring him off the bench,” Kellogg said. “And I thought it was good to get him playing a little bit more aggressive and more confident.”

UMass as a whole controlled the ball better, especially in the second half where they committed only three of their nine total turnovers.

Ultimately the Minutemen looked better than they have in the past few games, and had one or two of their shots went in, they probably would be walking out of the Mullins Center with their third conference win.

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