Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s basketball blown out at home against Fordham

Rams entered the game 0-8 in conference

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UMass men’s basketball blown out at home against Fordham

By Tommy Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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It was an all-around poor showing and effort for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team against Fordham.

The Minutemen (8-15, 1-9 Atlantic 10) entered the game losers of nine of their last 10, but with the Rams (10-12, 1-8 A-10) failing to pick up a conference win heading into Wednesday’s game, it looked like an ideal opportunity for UMass to get back on track on its home court.

Instead, the opposite happened. Playing without leading scorer Luwane Pipkins, who missed the game after suffering a hamstring injury against Saint Joseph’s, the Minutemen were discombobulated on the offensive end, lacking any cohesiveness.

UMass wasn’t any better on the defensive end, allowing easy layups and wide open shots, culminating in an 85-67 Fordham victory.

“That was as disappointing, as ugly and as uninspired of a performance that I’ve ever been on the bench since I’ve been doing this,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “Not even as a head coach – as a manager, as a grad student, as an ops guy, as an assistant coach and as a head coach. We played like the worst team in the Atlantic 10, and that’s what we are right now.”

It was a first half to forget for the Minutemen. UMass opened the game with a lack of urgency on both ends of the court, and the Rams quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead.

The Minutemen turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and Fordham made them pay for it, cashing in the UMass mishaps for 16 points off those turnovers. The Minutemen had 26 points at the break, with 12 of them coming at the charity stripe.

“We don’t value the ball enough,” McCall said. “And it’s costing us games. I’m not going to make an excuse for not having Luwane out there. Those other guys had opportunities to step up with him being out and we didn’t do that.”

With the offense sputtering, the defense was unable to step up and keep UMass in the game. With Pipkins out, McCall opted to go with both his centers—Rashaan Holloway and Djery Baptiste—in the starting lineup.

With the added size down-low, it would be expected that the Minutemen would be able to defend the paint, but that did not transpire. The Rams’ first four baskets came in the paint, and throughout the first half they were able to lob the ball to their post players, who had multiple uncontested alley-oops.

Outside, Fordham got open looks throughout, and finished the first half 19-for-30 from the field, with five of those misses coming from three-point range.

“We didn’t play hard,” McCall said. “At some point, guard the ball and stop getting whipped off the bounce. We can talk about a million different things we didn’t do. We didn’t play hard. We didn’t compete. We don’t take pride in being at UMass.”

The size mismatch didn’t play to UMass’ advantage offensively, as it struggled to get the ball to the post with the Rams fronting. McCall was not pleased with the lack of execution of getting the ball to their big men.

“What did we turn it over, three times on high-low passes?” McCall said. “It’s a simple pass. Get the ball up above the backboard and try to get it to land in bounds. That’s it. However you can turn it over on a high-low pass, we turned it over.”

The second half was more of the same for UMass, as Fordham held onto its double-digit lead throughout. The Rams finished the game shooting 60.7 percent from the field while going 11-for-20 behind the arc.

Carl Pierre led the Minutemen with 19 points, while Antwon Portley (22), Nick Honor (18), Chuba Ohams (13) and Jesse Bunting (12) all scored in double-figures for Fordham.

UMass returns to action at the Mullins Center Saturday, taking on Davidson.

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

 

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