Tre Mitchell’s late game heroics weren’t enough in UMass’ loss to URI

Mitchell finished with a season high 34 points


Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

By Frederick Hanna III, Collegian Staff

Tre Mitchell proved why he deserves to be the unanimous Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year against Rhode Island Saturday.

His herculean performance wasn’t enough, however, as the Massachusetts men’s basketball team lost in the final seconds to the Rams (21-9, 13-5 A-10).

Mitchell was his usual self and then some against URI, providing a spark to the lackluster UMass offense that couldn’t get a shot to fall for much of the first half. The big man finished with a season-high 34 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field and 6-of-8 from deep. He also grabbed 12 rebounds for the game.

Mitchell finished with his sixth double-double of the season. His dominance was echoed by UMass coach Matt McCall, who praised his offensive production in the close loss to the Rams.

“You can’t say enough about Tre,” McCall said. “What he is doing night in and night out against seniors, and [Cyril] Langevine, he got their whole frontcourt in foul trouble and it was just a dominant performance.

“The six threes [Tre had], coach [Tony] Bergeron said to me at shootaround he had a dream he was going to make seven and he made six. And he is not a freshman, he is one of the best frontcourt players, not only in the Atlantic 10, but in my opinion, the country, because what he is doing night in and night out is phenomenal. It is not like he is on the scouting report. He isn’t sneaking up on anybody. He was outstanding and it’s tough because that game could’ve gone our way.”

Mitchell was a threat from not only down low in the post but showed another asset to his game against the Rams, his three-point shot. The freshman knocked down six shots from beyond the arc and went a perfect 3-of-3 from deep in the second half. His cold-blooded three-ball that he knocked down with just over a minute to go gave the Minutemen their first lead since the 17:40 mark of the first half. His stutter-step and footwork showed why he is such a lethal scorer from all areas on the court and he showcased his ability to score from anywhere on the floor.

UMass relied heavily on Mitchell’s scoring, only getting offensive production aside from Mitchell from Sean East who finished with 12 points and seven assists. The tandem of the big man and the guard flowed nicely towards the end of the first half to cut into the large lead that URI built. East assisted Mitchell on multiple shots that the big man knocked down in the first half to work their way back into the game.

“I’m trying to find him,” East said. “We were just talking in the middle of the floor and he was like ‘I’m going to come off’ and I’m pitching it back [to him]. You got to feed him today and just ride him. He has been doing it for the whole year basically.”

Mitchell displayed out on the court his ability to knock down shots in clutch situations. From his three-ball that he knocked down with a little over a minute left in the second half to hitting two huge free throws with nine seconds left that gave the Minutemen the lead at the time, Mitchell showed he didn’t shy away from the pressure moments of the game.

“You guys see what he is doing night in and night out,” McCall said. “You don’t see his character and his coachability. It is a joy to be around him and coach him every day. He is just that level of a player. Everyone talks about Cale Makar as a hockey player, but they speak more about his character when he was here, and Tre has that level of character. And when you have a player with that level of talent and that level of character, now you got a chance to do something special.”

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