Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Second half comeback sparks UMass men’s basketball win over Saint Louis

Tre Mitchell continues his dominant stretch of basketball
Parker Peters/Daily Collegian

It was like night and day with the first and second halves for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team, who came back from a seven-point deficit at halftime to pull out the victory.

UMass (11-15, 5-8 Atlantic 10) righted the ship in the second half to squeeze out the 67-63 win over Saint Louis (18-8, 7-6 A-10).

The Minutemen turned their attention to the second half after an abysmal shooting performance that saw them go 4-of-16 from three and 12-32 from the field in the first half. On the other side of the ball, SLU was red hot from deep converting 5-of-7 shots and shot 51.9 percent from the field in the first half.

“The game was not going well for us in the first half,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “There were times it wasn’t going well in the second half. I was trying to find the right combinations of guys to play, and our guys gutted it out, and that’s a really good win.”

The focal of the scoring came from none other than the possible A-10 Rookie of the Year, Tre Mitchell. The freshman finished with 20-plus points for the second straight game and had another remarkable performance against a quality A-10 opponent. After his dominant performance against Dayton over the weekend, Mitchell followed up his 26-point day with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. He sealed the game for the Minutemen after he rolled off of a high pick-and-roll at the top of the key to the basket, then caught a perfect pass from Sean East and finished at the rim with a left-handed layup. It was perfect execution with the shot clock winding down as well with the game clock and gave UMass a two-possession lead with less than 12 seconds remaining.

“I actually thought in the first half Tre was making the right play,” McCall said. “I thought we needed to play through him in the second half and if they were going to continue to double him then let him find guys and we’ll eventually start making some shots. Getting him at the elbow area on [Jimmy] Bell was good for us, and then again like I said, [Hasahn] French on the block. He made some threes in the second half which were good. When he drives his legs, it looks good. We got more movement, some of those moves he made tonight against one of our best frontcourt players in our league, again just shows him where he is at.”

The scoring sheet shows East only finishing with four points for the game, but it was his execution and mobility throughout the court that made him stand out. East effortlessly led the offense in transition and in the half-court and perfectly set guys up for the right shot. The freshman finished with seven assists, after only getting two assists in the first half. East adjusted to the defense that SLU was laying out on the court and flawlessly moved the ball around, creating good ball movement for UMass.

“With Sean, it hasn’t necessarily been the basketball piece,” McCall said. “It has been more the mental piece. When Sean is good and got his joy, sometimes that can be taken from you whether it is a bad game or a bad practice or a bad whatever, and he got it back today and that is what our team needs.”

East and Mitchell have flowed nicely together over the course of the last few games, and with the pick-and-roll at the top of the key becoming more effective in games, the two are developing on the offensive side of the ball a lot more. East and Mitchell connected twice in the span of the final two minutes of the game, and that connection was crucial in the win. Mitchell’s ability to finish with both hands at the rim and to move through double teams is what has made him so effective scoring with the ball. After his struggles in the first half that saw him shoot only 1-of-5 from the field, it was about getting him to work down low in the post in the second half.

For Carl Pierre, his struggles haven’t gone unnoticed over the course of the last few games, but it was his lone three-pointer of the second half that put UMass ahead after going back and forth over the last eight minutes. Pierre has struggled to find his rhythm from deep and has struggled mightily in getting shots to fall. The three-pointer gave UMass the momentum it needed in muscling out a win.

“He deserved to make that shot,” McCall said.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter at @FrederickHIII.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *