Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball snaps five-game losing streak topping Saint Joseph’s Saturday

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The last time the Massachusetts men’s basketball team picked up a victory at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia, it was Ricky Harris who led the way for the Minutemen with a 23-point performance en route to an 87-80 win over Saint Joseph’s.

Saturday afternoon it was Donte Clark’s turn to lead UMass (13-12, 3-9 Atlantic 10) to its first win at Hagan Arena since 2010. The junior scored a game-high 24 points to propel the Minutemen past the Hawks (10-14, 3-9 A-10) 87-76.

The win was also the Minutemen’s first conference road victory of the season.

Clark set the tone early for UMass, scoring 12 of the Minutemen’s first 14 points of the game going 4-for-4 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.

“I’ve been telling the guys, ‘shoot the ball,’” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said in his postgame interview with WEEI Springfield. “We’ve got to shoot the ball and make some shots and I thought the guys did a good job, especially Donte then Luwane and Zach Lewis as the back-up point guard did a fantastic job for us tonight.”

UMass had four different players score in double-digits against SJU, led by Clark’s 24 and followed by Luwane Pipkins (19), Lewis (11), and Rashaan Holloway (10). The Hawks, on the other hand, had three players go over that 10-point threshold. Charlie Brown led the way with 15, followed by Lamarr Kimble with 12 and Nick Robinson with 10.

With starting point guard DeJon Jarreau in foul trouble late in the first half and the early second half, Kellogg turned to Lewis to run the offense. The Minutemen have utilized the redshirt junior at that position over the past few games and Kellogg was happy with what he saw from the Canisius transfer Saturday.

“I kind of like him back there because he can score some,” Kellogg said. “It gives us some maturity back there and I think he’s a good backup for (Jarreau), so kind of just a change we made on the fly. I thought it would be good for us.”

UMass was up for most of the game, in fact SJU’s only lead came when they were up 3-2 42 seconds into first half. However, a 10-0 run by the Hawks to tie the game at 55 with 10:24 remaining in the second half gave Minutemen fans a scare. UMass is all too familiar with letting a game they controlled slip away and they were determined to reverse that trend Saturday afternoon. From there, the Minutemen would go on a 7-0 run to take back control. A pair of steals by Jarreau and Pipkins was a big catalyst to that run.

“One of the things in college is trying to figure out ways to win,” Kellogg said. “It’s not always X’s and O’s and what’s written on the paper. Like ‘go figure it out’ and I thought a couple of those plays were huge for our guys to figure out a way to get a W.”

Free-throw shooting played a major role in UMass’ success on Saturday. As a team the Minutemen are shooting just 65 percent from the charity stripe, but against SJU they shot 81.3 percent, a 26-for-32 mark. The Hawks shot 32 free throws as well, but only knocked down 22.

The win Saturday snaps UMass’ five-game losing streak and they are hoping it provides some momentum as the Minutemen enter the home stretch of their season.

“I thought our guys played pretty good today on the road, come away with a win,” Kellogg said. “Now we’ve got to try to build on that and go to practice and work hard.”

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

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