Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Fordham catches fire in the second half to push UMass’ losing skid to four

UMass men's basketball picks up its fourth straight loss

By Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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Heading into Saturday’s matchup with Fordham University, it looked on paper as though the Massachusetts men’s basketball team had a great opportunity to end its three-game skid. The Rams entered with the worst record in the Atlantic 10 and had lost their last six games.

UMass (10-11, 3-5 Atlantic 10) started the game strong, taking a lead into the halftime break, but were outscored 51-34 in the second half and ended up falling to the Rams 82-69 in the Bronx.

Fordham (6-14, 1-7 A-10) had its way with the Minutemen throughout, shooting 55.8 percent from the field. The Rams second half run was funded by three point baskets, making eight shots from deep in the final 20 minutes.

“It was a barrage of three point shots,” UMass coach Matt McCall said on WEEI after the game. “You give up eight threes in the second half and it just seemed like they kept making them from all over from different guys.”

Fordham had a balanced scoring attack with five players hitting double figures. Prokop Slanina gave the UMass defense fits, scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 boards. Joseph Chartouny, who played the entire 40 minutes, also had a double-double with 16 points while dishing 13 assists.

Joining Slanina and Chartouny in double figures were Ivan Raut (16 points), Will Tavares (14) and David Pekárek (12).

After a three from freshman Carl Pierre to open the second half, Fordham went on a 21-5 run to take command and a nine-point lead. The run would ultimately serve as the difference in the game, as UMass could not crawl its way out of a deficit that got as large as 15 with 2:26 remaining.

“I thought the ball went into the basket at a rapid rate,” McCall said. “I thought our offense allowed us to get a little fatigued on defense, missing some coverages, missing some opportunities to make some plays. I thought we were fatigued a little bit. We were teetering, we kept it within six there then they made a couple that just broke our back.”

The three Pierre hit would be the only points he would score in the second half. The Rams made big adjustments on guarding him after he had 14 points at halftime. Luwane Pipkins was the top scorer for the Minutemen, finishing with 18 points.

Guard Unique McLean and center Malik Hines would also score in double figures for UMass, though McLean was just 7-for-24 from the field. With only seven scholarship players, Pierre, Pipkins, McLean and Hines all saw a ton of court time, each playing over 33 minutes.

“Offensively we scored 70 points against a funky defense,” McCall said. “I liked what we were doing, I thought we were getting open looks. Sometimes you just have to put the ball in the basket. That’s the bottom line. You look down at the stat sheet and some guys were able to put the ball in the basket and other ones really, really struggled.

“At the end of the day we were just missing layups. We should have had a 12-to-15-point lead in the first half but we were missing layups in bunnies. In order to win on the road, you have to do that.”

A positive for the Minutemen was their ability to hit the offensive glass. UMass finished with 17 offensive boards, nine of which were grabbed by McLean.

The Minutemen return to Amherst for a pair of games next week in hopes of ending their four-game losing streak. It won’t be easy, as both games are against top teams in the A-10, as UMass will take on Rhode Island Tuesday night and follow that with a matchup with Dayton.

 

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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