Javohn Garcia and TJ Weeks bright spots in UMass’ 78-75 loss to Northeastern

Garcia scores 18, Weeks adds 14

By Joseph Aliberti, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team did not have the back of Tre Mitchell to lean on at Northeastern, as he only finished with 10 points, shooting 30 percent from the field.

Freshman point guard Javohn Garcia, who scored 23 points off the bench in the season opener for UMass (1-1), led the Minutemen in scoring in their second game with 18 points.

Garcia was six of 11 from the field, making both of his threes while also leading UMass in assists and steals with three apiece.

Garcia immediately showed that the first game of the season was no mistake. An acrobatic layup by Garcia were the first points for the Minutemen. Garcia followed that up going coast-to-coast a few minutes later to finish another difficult layup in traffic.

“To be able to do what he’s done in the first two games of his career, that’s the expectation we had of him coming in,” said UMass head coach Matt McCall when asked about Garcia. “We knew how good he was, and he’s got to continue to build.”

Being able to stop Mitchell, Garcia and also break the patented UMass press were important keys for the Huskies (1-1) to accomplish coming into the second game of the home-and-home against the Minutemen.

Though Northeastern had much success opening up its offense and making sure Mitchell was not the same factor that he was in the first game, Garcia was able to come close to the game he had to open the season.

“I didn’t think we did a good job on [Garcia] at all Friday,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen. “Today we did a better job, but to his credit, he was still effective. I think he’s going to be a special player this year and going forward.”

The final 11 points of the game for UMass were scored by Garcia and sophomore guard TJ Weeks, who had eight of his 14 total points in the final 52 seconds of the game.

Before the two-man scoring run by Weeks and Garcia, the Minutemen were down 10 with just a minute remaining. The run allowed UMass the chance of tying the game on a final shot, but the Minutemen elected to drive to the basket for a layup and a hopeful foul that came up short.

Weeks struggled in the season opener, which was the first game he played since the tenth game of last season, as he recovered from a hernia injury that sidelined him for the rest of the 2019-20 season. In the opener he finished with 11 points, making only 3 of 11 shot attempts and one of his five shots from beyond the arc.

Coming off the ten games in which he played last season where he averaged nearly 15 points on almost 50 percent shooting from three, Weeks was able to bounce back to a similar performance in the second game against Northeastern. Weeks was 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from the 3-point line, along with six rebounds in only 18 minutes.

“[Weeks] has been in the gym the last two days at 7 a.m.,” McCall said. “We need to find more minutes for him because he not only scored the ball today… but he had six rebounds… Some of these minutes for these other guys probably need to go down and TJ’s minutes need to go up a little bit.”

Garcia and Weeks have both proven to be solid scoring options in their short time at UMass, as Garcia is now averaging 20.5 points in his two games while Weeks is averaging 14.3 points in his 12 games wearing the Maroon and White.

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