UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling

By Amin Touri

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

Two consecutive double-digit comebacks would not translate into a third for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team on Wednesday, as the Minutemen took a humbling from the cream of the Atlantic 10 crop in a 73-51 loss to Rhode Island.

The Minutemen (10-9, 3-3 A-10) ran headfirst into the URI buzz saw, as the Rams (14-3, 6-0 A-10) established their dominance early and often on their home court to remain unbeaten in conference play.

Massachusetts native Jared Terrell torched UMass to the tune of 24 points on 8-13 shooting and 4-6 from deep to lead all scorers Wednesday night. Stanford Robinson added a double-double, notching 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, to help lead URI to a convincing win.

“Take nothing away from Rhode Island,” said UMass coach Matt McCall. “They’re a terrific team, and they’re where we’re trying to get to. But I thought we were completely back on our heels from when the ball was thrown up in the air, and played the game completely scared, played the game afraid, and didn’t cut it loose.”

Star guard E.C. Matthews, an All-Conference First Team selection in the A-10 preseason poll, was held to an unusually quiet eight points on 0-5 shooting from deep, but it didn’t matter—the Minutemen played the best all-around squad they’ve seen this season, and were soundly beaten for 40 minutes.

“It is what it is,” said sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins. “They’re a good team, they’re a good transition team, and they just played better ball tonight, that’s all it was.”

Pipkins finished with a team-high 13 points, recovering from a frigid first half to add a respectable 11 in the second. C.J. Anderson’s 10 made him the only other Minuteman in double-digits, the two at the forefront of a never-rhythmic offense.

The Rams jumped out to an early 24-8 lead in the opening minutes, coming out on the front end of the game’s extremely sloppy first act.

13 points is fairly pedestrian for Pipkins, who came in averaging 20.2 per night, and was coming off the finest three-game stretch of his career. Freshman Carl Pierre had averaged 19 points over his last three outings, but was held to only five by a rabid and relentless Rhody defense.

“They were obviously physical,” McCall said, “but teams have been physical with those two guys before. I thought they both had good looks, I thought Carl had some good looks, but some nights the ball’s just not going to go in the basket, that’s the bottom line.”

The Rams took a 40-20 lead into halftime, and though UMass managed to make occasional dents, the gap never truly closed to a manageable deficit.

“[We] still had some chances there,” McCall said. “We cut it to 10 in the first half, cut it to 14 with the under-eight timeout, we were on a little bit of a run there, I thought our zone was good, but we just got put back on our heels way too much to start the game.”

The Minutemen had occasional highlights—Unique McLean threw down a reverse alley-oop jam from Pipkins that registered as the game’s flashiest moment—but they were outgunned, outmanned, and outclassed at the Ryan Center.

After the drubbing came to a close, McCall emphasized his team’s need to have a short memory about duds like Wednesday night’s outing.

“We have a rule,” said McCall. “You can be upset, mad, angry until midnight. After midnight we got to flush it and move on. We got a very, very good Saint Louis team coming in with a lot of excitement surrounding the game on Saturday with Marcus Camby being back, so we’ve got to get better, and understand that they are where we’re trying to get to, and we can use this as motivation to get back in the gym and get back to work.”

UMass returns to the Mullins Center on Saturday afternoon to take on Saint Louis on Alumni Day in Amherst, as Minuteman legend Marcus Camby will be honored.

Tip-off on Saturday is slated for 2 p.m.


Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @Amin_Touri.