UMass beaten 89-86 by Ball State in finale of Jersey Mike’s Classic

Minutemen finished with four starters in double digits

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McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

By Frederick Hanna III, Assistant Sports Editor

By Frederick Hanna III, Assistant Sports Editor

With just 15 seconds left in regulation, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team had a chance to tie things up with Ball State or knock down a three to give itself a one-point lead. A tumultuous offensive possession saw the Minutemen (3-3) fail to record a shot and eventually turn the ball over with three seconds remaining sealing their fate in the 89-86 loss.

“Trent [Buttrick] slipped and we were coming down in transition,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “He starts to drive, he slips. He’s [then] wide open, he slips. That’s just one of those freak things. There really isn’t much else to say about it.”

Buttrick’s performance against Ball State was largely the reason UMass got to within two points of the lead with the game clock winding down. The forward finished with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor. It was Buttrick’s sixth straight game scoring in double digits and the fourth time he eclipsed 15 or more points

UMass clawed its way back into the game with the Cardinals (2-4) thanks to an offensive onslaught in the second half. The Minutemen found themselves down by 17 points with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game. A string of baskets made by the duo of C.J. Kelly and T.J. Weeks put the squad right back within reach of Ball State’s lead and back down to single digits for the first time since the early minutes of the second half.

Weeks provided a much-needed spark of offensive production for UMass down the stretch. The redshirt sophomore went 8-of-12 from the field and finished with 19 points. It was the second game in a row in which he came off the bench.

“I am more proud of [T.J. Weeks] for accepting the challenge [of coming off the bench],” McCall said. “I challenged him coming out of the Weber State game and he has completely 100 percent responded. Much like Trent [Buttrick] out of the UMBC game out of the half, I did the same thing with [Weeks].”

The combo of Weeks and Kelly hasn’t been something that fans have seen a lot of on the court. The two have been seen as interchangeable at the three-spot yet with the game on line towards the end of the second half McCall utilizing all of his options. Both are threats from beyond the arc and it didn’t take them much time to find their groove from deep.

C.J. Kelly finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, along with going 4-of-7 from 3-point range. It was the third time this season that he managed to knock down three or more 3-pointers.

UMass finished with five players scoring in double digits. Four of the five starters combined for 58 of the 86 points the Minutemen put up against the Cardinals.

“It’s hard for me to criticize our offense when you give up 90 points,” McCall said. “We’re not going to outscore people every night. We scored 86 points tonight so it’s hard for me to sit here and critique our offense.”

Noah Fernandes had a relatively quiet night for his standards, likely due to an injury he suffered in the game. The junior finished with seven points, his lowest point total of the Jersey Mike’s Classic. The first two games of the tournament Fernandes put up career-high numbers in points scored, breaking his career record after the end of each game.

Ball State outscored UMass’ bench by a margin of 31-21. The trio of Javohn Garcia, Dibaji Walker and Greg Jones combined for two points. Walker was coming off a 12-point performance against UNC Greensboro yet followed it up with his first scoreless outing on the season.

Garcia saw increased minutes since his last time out on the court against UNCG and went scoreless as well, going 0-of-5 from the field in 13 minutes of action.

The Minutemen next take on UMass Lowell at the Mullins Center. Tipoff is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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