UMass locks down Fordham, wins 65-46

Rams scored 15 points in first half

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Christopher Tucci/UMass Athletics

By Joey Aliberti, Assistant Sports Editor

At the end of the first half, the job was all but done for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team. Fordham had only 15 points while UMass scored 44.

The Rams (1-5, 1-5 Atlantic 10) shot 7-of-26, or right around 27 percent in the first half.

Fordham also had more turnovers (11) than made shots, from the field and free throw line (8) in the first half.

UMass (5-3, 4-1 A-10) head coach Matt McCall had his team manned up for the entire first half, with the exception of zone on inbounds plays. McCall also made it a priority to switch up the looks that his team gave in the press.

Though the Minutemen only finished the game with three steals, many turnovers were forced upon Fordham due to the variance of McCall’s press defense, as many passes sailed out of bounds with no Rams anywhere close.

“It keeps you off balance when you’re constantly having to change your press offenses,” McCall said. “… I thought that forced them into some turnovers.”

UMass slowed down in the second half, allowing Fordham to actually outscore them 31-21. This was not much of an impact in the end, as the Minutemen had two less points in the first half (44) than Fordham did throughout the entire game (46).

Fordham made the absolutely horrific shooting statistics from the first half look slightly improved after the second half, finishing with a higher field goal percentage than UMass (37.3 compared to 33.9).

Free throw shooting was well below average on Sunday for Fordham, only making six of 15 attempts, a 40 percent clip. Coming into this game the Rams were right under 70 percent on free throws.

In this three-game winning streak for the Minutemen, defense has much improved in comparison to the first four games of the season. In the first four games, UMass allowed 81.8 points per contest, compared to the 63.6 allowed per game in the winning streak.

Obviously this is slightly skewed due to the double overtime game against George Mason, but if you were to switch out the 93 points with the 62 points the Patriots had in regulation, the average points allowed would still be 75.6 per game.

“We’re holding teams to lower scores in the first half, like today,” said TJ Weeks. “I feel like we got to do that for all 40 minutes. We can’t let them start scoring again in the second half and get comfortable with our lead. We really got to do that for 40 minutes, and that’s the next step.”

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