Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass basketball falls behind early, can’t come back in 83-72 loss vs. George Washington

Colonials outscored Minutemen 44-26 in the paint

%28Katherine+Mayo%2FDaily+Collegian%29
(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts men’s basketball team dropped its second straight game Wednesday night, falling 83-72 to George Washington.

UMass (11-15, 4-9 Atlantic 10) couldn’t overcome a sloppy first half against the Colonials (11-15, 4-9 A-10), marking the Minutemen’s seventh loss out of their previous eight games.

“I thought the tone was set for the game early on,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “We just couldn’t find a way to get a rebound. We could say it’s our lack of size up front or whatever, but rebounding, again, is a want not a skill.”

GW picked up 43 rebounds, including 26 defensive boards, while the Minutemen could only muster 28 total. UMass was also outscored 44-26 in the paint.

Patrick Steeves paced the offense for the Colonials, recording a team-high 16 points while also pulling in 12 rebounds.

“It’s another game where the (opposing) team scores in the 80s, and you’re not going to win basketball games when teams score in the 80s,” McCall said.

Second-chance points buried UMass as GW nearly tripled the Minutemen’s output, finishing with a 21-8 margin.

C.J. Anderson had himself a night despite the loss, concluding with 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field.

UMass wasn’t sharp with their shot selection all night and it showed as the Minutemen only finished with a 39.3 field goal percentage.

“When you don’t see the ball going in on the offensive end it can affect you on the defensive end, it can,” Anderson said. “But however, we got to use that defensive end as momentum and we have to use that as our motor that push us to keep going and get to the rim.”

The Colonials turned to their big men early and didn’t let up with Steeves, forward Arnaldo Toro and guard Yuta Watanabe—all 6-foot-8 or taller–contributing to a majority of GW’s offense.

Steeves finished with a 12-point first half, followed closely behind by Watanabe’s eight points, while going 2-for-4 from 3-point land.

The Minutemen could not stop the Colonials pressure in the paint and struggled to make their shots on the other end, finishing the first half down 43-25.

Anderson and Luwane Pipkins were UMass’ top scorers after the first 20 minutes with nine points each.

UMass fought back in the second half, closing the gap to as low as 10 points with just under two minutes left in regulation, but GW sank some late shots and killed any chance for a Minutemen miracle.

“I think teams are smelling blood,” McCall said about the opposition’s matchups with an injury-riddled UMass squad.  “Teams are smelling blood and that can either motivate and drive you or you can go the other way.”

The Minutemen welcomed UMass football backup QB Randall West to the lineup—after walking on to the squad Tuesday—to help with the depth issues, and West finished with a point in seven minutes played.

“Number one, I appreciate him helping the team out,” said Anderson about West. “He’s a wonderful guy. I’ve known him since my freshman year…and for a guy like that to come out there today, who hasn’t learned any of the plays, doesn’t know any of the defensive principles and for him to look good out there today, kudos to him.”

UMass hopes to avoid a three-game slide when it travels to North Carolina Saturday to battle Davidson.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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