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

Strong second half powers UMass to 71-56 win over Hofstra

Minutemen go on 22-2 scoring run to pull away
Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian (2022)

After a 22-2 scoring run over 6:30 during the second half, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team never looked back in its 71-56 win over Hofstra.

The Minutemen (8-2) rolled into the Barclays Center and stepped over the Pride (6-5) despite falling behind early on and the absence of guard Noah Fernandes. The game was tied at halftime, but UMass flipped a switch when the second period came along. Seemingly getting to the basket and finishing at will during the span, the Minutemen outscored Hofstra 41-26 in the second half, who was without its best player Aaron Estrada (21.7 points per game).

“[The first half] was really bad,” UMass coach Frank Martin said. “But the second half I felt we did a better job of guarding the ball. I thought our rotations were better and we played better on offense. We actually scored at the rim. There was movement, there was cutting, there was a purpose.”

Martin continued to balance playing time across the lineup; no Minuteman played more than 25 minutes. This is in line with the season so far, as UMass leads the nation in bench minutes and scored 45 bench points against the Pride. Exciting freshman Tafara Gapare led the team on Sunday with 13 points in 20 minutes, shooting 2-for-3 from deep.

Once again the Minutemen started the game a step behind, having to claw its way back into the contest until halftime then exploding when things clicked. Forcing 17 turnovers and scoring 20 points off them helped get the ball rolling.

“We played with our identity in the second half,” Martin said. “In the first half, on offense we just kind of stood around and looked at each other. There was no movement, and the guys when they tried to move it was just like a waltz. Looks like they were ballroom dancing as they just kind of lollygagged around. And then defensively we wouldn’t guard the ball.

“… I was really, really proud of the guys that played in the second half. For the most part, those three freshmen. They gave us an enthusiasm for competitiveness … Matt Cross is sick right now. He woke up this morning with a bug and there was uncertainty whether or not he was going to play tonight. And for him to gut it out the way he did shows a lot about who he is – but I think the way those three freshmen competed in the second half uplifted Matt,” he added, referring to Gapare, Keon Thompson and RJ Luis.

Cross and Dyondre Dominguez both contributed 12 points and nine rebounds. The forwards played a crucial role in the 22-2 run in the second half. They succeeded on the offensive glass, with Cross grabbing three and Dominguez four offensive boards. Cross also added two steals and two blocks. Forward performance was a plus for UMass, it controlled the paint with toughness in scoring and rebounding.

“I think the only thing that changed [in the second half] is just effort, playing harder, rebounding, more physical,” Cross said. “And I think that’s the only reason why we really broke away with our second chance shots, tough down low, and just passing the ball.”

Thompson provided a veteran-like performance in the absence of Fernandes, running the point for the Minutemen during much of the scoring run. He finished with eight points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in the game, along with a +23 plus-minus. Luis added eight points and five rebounds.

UMass will play a semi-home game against North Texas in Springfield in the Hall of Fame Classic next Saturday at 3 p.m.

Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter for more UMass men’s basketball coverage @P_GraySoares.

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  • J

    Jim WendelDec 12, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    Great job of reporting on the game.