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

UMass loses, 78-57, to Saint Louis in final game of regular season

Minutemen lose the chance to play with a double bye in the conference tournament
Nina Walat / Daily Collegian

The chance for a double bye into the Atlantic 10 Tournament was completely squashed Monday night for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team, as they lost the regular season finale to Saint Louis by a score of 78-57.

It simply wasn’t UMass’ (7-6, 6-4 A-10) night who struggled in all facets of the game and couldn’t seem to find any sort of momentum against a tough opponent like the Billikens (13-5, 6-4 A-10).

“Obviously [we] just didn’t play well,” UMass head coach Matt McCall said. “[We] didn’t play well enough to beat a talented team like Saint Louis. To beat a team like that on the road, offensively you have to be clicking on all levels and obviously we weren’t, our numbers prove that. Defensively same thing. Didn’t play the way we wanted to, didn’t play our best basketball and we have to get a lot better here over the next couple days and do whatever we can to make a run [in the tournament].”

Out of the gate, things seemed to be going back and forth between UMass and Saint Louis with both sides the victim of a lot of foul calls and unable to get into a groove. By the midway mark of the first half though, Saint Louis found itself ahead by seven thanks to the play of Jordan Goodwin, who was killing UMass’ defense. Goodwin had himself a quick 13 points in the first half causing havoc driving into the lane, which put him at the line a lot and he capitalized. The senior went 6-of-8 from the line in the first half. UMass had no answer for Goodwin and Javonte Perkins, who combined for 19 points in the opening half.

The Minutemen found themselves in foul trouble quickly with Tre Mitchell picking up two fouls and Cairo McCrory adding three. Senior Carl Pierre, in possibly his final regular season game in a UMass jersey, finished out the half strong, notching 10 points on 2-of-3 shooting from deep to keep them within reach of the Billikens.

Coming out of the half strong was Noah Fernandes who tried to will UMass back into the game. With 13:51 left in the second half, Fernandes pulled up for a two-pointer on the break to cut into the Saint Louis lead. After a couple made baskets by the Billikins on the other end, the lead was quickly back up to 12 until Fernandes pulled up for three to cut the lead back down to single digits. At the time, it seemed to be a momentous three for UMass who desperately needed something to get going. But that basket by Fernandes only pushed the Billikens lead further, as they went on a 11-0 run up until the eight-minute mark. This was when things really spiraled out for the Minutemen.

“I thought that stretch too [was tough] where we missed three or four straight threes,” McCall said. “I thought a couple of them were really good looks, but I felt like when that happens it kind of deflates you and you have to refocus and get stops on the other end. I think those stretches where we missed three or four straight three deflated us in a way and we weren’t able to respond from there.”

The senior trio of Perkins, Goodwin and Hasahn French was too much to handle for UMass who struggled to find the right defensive matchup. On senior night for Saint Louis, the seniors certainly played like the ranked team they were earlier in the season and didn’t let off on the gas pedal at all throughout the game. The three combined for 41 points in the game along with 18 rebounds. French was physical with Mitchell down low in the post and certainly got the better of the sophomore being able to move efficiently from block to block, picking up rebounds and scoring.

On paper, Saint Louis was the more veteran-heavier team and certainly played like it against UMass. Mitchell struggled to assert his dominance down low in the post and the double team by the Billikens proved to be effective against the reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year. The sophomore finished with 10 points on the night in his first time back into the starting lineup since the game against Richmond when he injured his shoulder.

“Obviously Tre is terrific, and teams are throwing two guys at him every time,” McCall said. “He gets it down there and if they aren’t throwing two guys down there they are shrinking the floor around him and making it hard for him to operate. I thought he threw some great passes out of double teams. When that happens, we have to look if we are getting wide open good shots or do we need to put more pressure at the basket in those situations and drive close outs. He is that good of a player where he drives that much attention.”

It is back-to-back losses for the Minutemen, both coming by a margin of 14 points or more, and the first time they have lost by 20 plus points all year.

UMass’ regular season is over. It now heads into the A-10 tournament in Richmond on Thursday with tipoff scheduled for 1 p.m. Its opponent will be the winner of the La Salle-Saint Joseph’s game.

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

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