UMass men’s basketball hangs on to defeat South Florida despite 20 turnovers

The Minutemen were outscored 42-33 in second half

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Dylan Nguyễn/Daily Collegian (2022)

By Joey Aliberti, Managing Editor

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team had 20 turnovers Tuesday night against South Florida. The Bulls (2-6) made it close, but UMass’ (5-1) turnover problem didn’t stop it from winning 73-67 on the road.

Despite winning the game Minutemen coach Frank Martin was upset with the way his team played, especially in the final stretch.

“Really disappointing how we played the last 4:30 to five minutes of the game,” Martin said. “We looked like a bunch of second graders out there. We quit defending, quit rebounding, we gave up 13 offensive rebounds [in the game], our attention to detail and personnel was really bad. Just really really disappointed and we’re lucky we got a win here today. At the end of the day when you win you find some positivity in that but I don’t really see too many positive things for me to elaborate on.”

UMass led by 15 with 4:40 remaining in the game; it controlled the glass and interior for much of the first 35 minutes. The Bulls finished the game on a 13-4 run, keeping the Minutemen within reach but not having enough time to complete the comeback.

After outscoring USF by 15 in the first half, UMass was outscored 42-33 in the final 20 minutes. Russel Tchewa and Miguel Selton combined for four first half points. The Minutemen forced both players into difficult situations, Tchewa had five first half rebounds but Wildens Leveque and Isaac Kante didn’t give him any working space in the post. Selton had four turnovers and little luck getting past Matt Cross and other UMass wings. Tchewa and Selton then scored 21 of the Bulls’ 42 second half points, getting easy opportunities around the basket.

Of the 73 points scored by UMass, 21 were in transition. The Minutemen shot well Tuesday night, making 47 percent of their shots and 43 percent of their 3-pointers. The numbers didn’t translate to the product Martin wanted from his offense.

“Our half court offense was embarrassing, it was really bad,” Martin said.

The Minutemen committed 11 first half turnovers, also adding nine fouls in that time. Coming off three straight wins en route to taking home the Myrtle Beach Invitational trophy, UMass had over a week in between games. It looked as such for the first and last five minutes of the game.

“Some of the guys on the team did not help us today” Martin said. “If we hadn’t defended in the middle 30 minute section of the game, we lose the game.”

Dyondre Dominguez was a spark plug for Martin and a major reason the transition offense had its success for the Minutemen. After a quiet past few games, Dominguez led the team in scoring with 15, much of which came off fast breaks. While he was undoubtedly impactful, Martin didn’t have a positive outlook on his performance.

“He’s got to learn to be more consistent,” Martin said. “He’s got to learn how to not spend the game talking to fans in the stands and looking in cameras and celebrating. He’s grown up a lot as a young person and he’s been extremely helpful to us. He’s got to learn how to play for us and not get engaged in stuff that’s not [happening] on the court.”

The junior noted the raised standard Martin has for his teams, even after winning.

“I never had a coach like that, but it’s very good because it makes us not settle on focusing on the win the next day,” Dominguez said. “Once we get the win, it’s win time until the night is over, and then the next day it’s just completely over, you got to focus on the next one.”

Leveque had a season high in both points and rebounds, getting 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. He blocked three shots, serving as the defensive anchor when UMass locked up USF’s offense. He also made his first 3-pointers this season, hitting 2-of-4 attempts.

“If he could ever make layups, he’d score 20,” Martin said. “He’s worked really hard at shooting threes. He missed some [against Central Connecticut State] and he got gun shy. I just spoke to him not too long ago and said ‘You’ve worked too hard. If you got a corner three shot it. If you got a trail three, shoot it.’ Give him credit … I can’t drive him nuts when he’s got a perimeter jump shot, because he’s got to have the peace to shoot it. He did that today and he made a couple big ones for us.”

The Minutemen take their four-game winning streak to Harvard on Friday at 7 p.m. The game will stream on ESPN+.