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

Bryant holds on to defeat UMass 93-88

Minutemen shot 39 percent from the field
Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian

Massachusetts men’s basketball head coach Matt McCall talked about how Bryant has forced its opponents to take unwarranted threes to try to keep up with the Bulldogs (7-2, 3-1 Northeast Conference) unique playstyle.

UMass (2-2, 1-0 Atlantic 10) did just that in its 93-88 loss to Bryant.

The Bulldogs were able to shoot a 43 percent clip from the 3-point line, right around their season average. UMass shot 26.5 percent from beyond the arc, close to the season average that Bryant allows to its opponents.

Tre Mitchell — who was held to just 12 points on four of nine shooting from the field – would receive entry passes while in the post before getting swarmed by the Bryant zone defense in the loss. Mitchell would proceed to pass it out to a semi-open perimeter player, who would more than likely miss the attempted 3-pointer.

TJ Weeks, arguably the Minutemen’s best shooter, made only one of his nine shots from beyond the arc, and only four of his total 16.

“I can’t say we did anything really well,” McCall said.

The Minutemen were down 17 points with 15 minutes left in the second half before quickly starting to storm back into the game. The game was tied at 84 with just over two minutes remaining.

That’s when sophomore Michael Green III made an acrobatic layup along with a pair of free throws to quickly put the Bulldogs up four, which ended up being too much for UMass to climb back from.

Green III finished the game with a career-high 33 points, shooting 12-16 from the field and four of seven from the 3-point line. Green III’s single Division I offer coming out of high school came from Bryant.

“He’s got a chance to be special,” said Bryant head coach Jared Grasso. “All that ranking stuff and all that internet recruiting that means nothing, I think it kind of shows on a night like tonight.”

Green III was able to consistently slice through driving lanes with ease, with nobody being able to match the quickness of the 5-foot-11 160-pounder. Along with guards Peter Kiss, Chris Childs and Charles Pride, UMass was unable to contain the speed and skill of the Bulldogs’ top scorers.

“They didn’t prepare as well as they should’ve for us,” Green III said. “The way we play, almost everything was open.”

Bryant forward Hall Elisias finished the game with five blocks. Elisias was the centerpiece of the defensive plan to stop Mitchell in the post and rather force low-quality perimeter shots.

“Elisias did an unbelievable job of protecting the rim for them,” McCall said. “…We talked about going right to his chest and finishing and we allowed him to have a huge impact on the game defensively… We tried to prepare for it the last few days, but obviously it caused us some problems and we got to be way better zone offense-wise.”

Ronnie DeGray III started the game with nine of the Minutemen’s first 12 points but did not see much playing time after that stint, finishing the game with only 15 minutes on the floor and no more points after his initial hot start.

“I thought Ronnie was struggling a little defensively and we had to find ways to get stops,” McCall said.

The lineup that played most of the minutes during the UMass comeback was four guards and Mitchell to assure that the Bulldogs would not have as much success getting around the Minutemen defenders.

Though the lineup switch had success, it was not enough to get a win over an opponent most expected UMass to topple. The Minutemen fell into the arms of their opponent’s game plan and were never able to fully come back from it.

“I think our presence was different and I think our guys didn’t get panicked,” Grasso said. “…I think we took another step forward as a program today.”

“We’ve got to change our approach leading up to our opponents,” McCall said.

Joey Aliberti can be reached via email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JosephAliberti1.

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