Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball’s inexperience shows once again against Rhode Island Tuesday

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Katherine Mayo/Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team kept up with Rhode Island for as long as it could Tuesday night at the Mullins Center. However, the older Rams showed their experience against the Minutemen for the majority of their 70-62 victory.

The youth and overall inexperience of UMass (12-12, 2-9 Atlantic 10) has come into play often this season and against a veteran-led URI (16-7, 8-3 A-10) team, that inexperience was never more evident.

“You know they showed their youth at times,” Rams coach Dan Hurley said. “Derek’s got a tremendous collection of young players here that are just going to get better and better and play at the top of this league the next couple of years.”

This is a common sentiment expressed by many opposing coaches who have played the Minutemen.

URI boasts a veteran starting lineup that consists of two juniors, two seniors and only one freshman. When those starters sit – which they do little of, given that all of the starters with the exception of Kuran Iverson played 30 or more minutes – Hurley was able to turn to sophomore forward Nicola Akele who scored 12 points and had three steals.

UMass was able to keep it close in the first half thanks in large part to 19 points from Donte Clark. When Clark’s productivity dipped in the second half, the Rams were able to extend their lead to as much as 14 points with 8:32 left.

At one point in the first half, the Minutemen kept URI from scoring a field goal for 8:08. In that time, UMass scored 11 points and briefly tied at 19, but were unable to take the lead. The Minutemen shot 5-of-11 during that stretch.

“That reminded me of us when we played against Temple, where it’s just kind of a rock fight, where it’s basically just a defensive grind,” coach Derek Kellogg said. “Even though we were covering them, we weren’t really scoring on the offensive end. We had a couple, I think Zach Lewis missed the one-and-one there.”

Being unable to capitalize during stretches where their opponent hasn’t been scoring is a repeating occurrence for UMass this season.

“There were four or five opportunities we had where we could have cut into the lead or not given them the lead,” Kellogg said. “I thought inevitably turning the ball over 19 times was something that was on the board to not do.”

Despite the overall lackluster offensive performance, the Minutemen found themselves down by five with 53 seconds left on the clock. They missed all four of their shots from that point on (with all three points coming off of free throws).

UMass shot only 32.1 percent in the second half and only 12.5 percent from 3-point range. Contrary, URI shot 44.4 percent in the second half.

“Honestly the way they look and play, that’s the way I would like us to be able to execute and play,” Kellogg said. “Kudos to them. I watched them play Davidson and they kind of did similar to them coming down the stretch. It was a tight game. They were able to get some stops and make some shots.”

Unlike the Rams, UMass saw little help from Clark’s supporting cast of players. DeJon Jarreau and Luwane Pipkins combined for five points and shot a combine 1-for-12 and 1-for-6 from 3-point range.

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

About the Writer
Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor
A six-run fourth inning gives UMass victory over Northeastern at Fenway Park.
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