Tre Mitchell leads UMass to first road win of the season against La Salle

Mitchell goes off for career high 37 points

Jim+Pierce%2FUMass+Athletics

Jim Pierce/UMass Athletics

By Frederick Hanna III, Collegian Staff

Tre Mitchell was unstoppable for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team as they took on La Salle in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Double teamed, tripled team or swarmed by the entire Explorer’s (2-4, 0-1 Atlantic 10) defense, you name it. Mitchell navigated his way through to the basket for UMass (2-1, 1-0 A-10). The sophomore finished with a career high 37 points in an 85-66 win against the Explorers.

Mitchell was dominating for the Minutemen, clicking on all cylinders. Poised and determined to score. The sophomore went 13-of-17 from the field and shot two-of-three from beyond the arc.

“We did a great job establishing [Mitchell] on the block,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “First and foremost the ball went into him, they didn’t double-team him, and he was able to operate down there.”

“If the teams aren’t going to double-team him then he needs to lead us in shot attempts, no question. It is just how good he is down there with his back to the basket. When teams do double him then it is going to open everything up for everyone else on the perimeter.”

It was night and day for Mitchell who only finished with five points in the first half of the Northeastern game Sunday. Wednesday against La Salle, Mitchell finished with 12 points in the first half. Mitchell found his groove early which proved to be pivotal for the Minutemen who only led by one point heading into the break.

The connection of Noah Fernandes and Mitchell was felt in the second half as the freshman point guard dished out nine assists throughout the game, majority of them coming from feeding Mitchell down low in the post. Mitchell thrived down low in the paint fighting through double and triple-teams. The Explorers had no options for the big man as he went off for 25 points in the second half, doubling his total from the first half.

Mitchell went on a tear in the second half, controlling the offense and owning the paint. He finished with five rebounds to boot with his career-high point total and had two blocks and steals as well.

Mitchell had a stretch where he slammed home a basket then followed it up with a 3-pointer from deep and an assist to McCrory in a makeshift alley-oop. It was a span of unselfish basketball and pure dominance for the reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year.

The center looked poised and comfortable on the road, which is a good sign for this young squad. The road struggles were a major difference maker in the Minutemen climbing up a few more spots in the conference last season and a successful campaign on the road starts and ends with Mitchell this year.

Three games into the season and Mitchell already has two 30-plus point performances, matching his total from last season. His scoring is off the charts and his offensive efficiency is proving to be key for this UMass team.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FrederickHIII