UMass men’s basketball falls to St. Bonaventure in Noah Fernandes’ return from injury

Fernandes got into foul trouble early in first half

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Dylan Nguyễn/Daily Collegian

By Joey Aliberti, Managing Editor

In his first game back since Dec. 2, Noah Fernandes hit a 3-pointer with 8:42 left in the first half, bringing the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s deficit to eight. It was his second straight bucket, but also the second straight possession he trash talked the St. Bonaventure bench, earning him a technical foul. Frank Martin let the referee hear what he had to say, earning another technical foul for the Minutemen (9-4, 0-1 Atlantic 10).

That was Fernandes’ third foul of the game, and Martin’s first technical since becoming UMass’ coach. It was also the beginning of the end for the Minutemen, who lost their first conference game of the season 83-64 to the Bonnies (7-7, 1-0 A-10).

“I think I’ve got eight career technical fouls, I rarely get teched up,” Martin said. “I didn’t agree with what happened and how it was managed. But that’s officiating. I’ve paid a $25,000 check before, I’m not paying a dime ever again because of what I say after a game.”

During Fernandes’ five games out, Martin admitted that his team lost some of its offensive identity, which the senior point guard was a major part of. He scored seven points in eight first half minutes, providing a little solace for an offense that was 5-of-19 from the field and 1-of-8 on 3-pointers without him.

But those 12 minutes Fernandes sat out in foul trouble were critical. St. Bonaventure scored with ease, distancing itself from UMass with every basket.

“It just kind of sucked mentally, but I just wanted to stay locked in,” Fernandes said. “I thought we still had a chance the whole game. I just wanted to try and provide positive energy. When I got back in the game, just try and give it my all and put us in a position to win.”

Fernandes played 14 minutes in the second half, but the Bonnies offensive dominance continued, and UMass’ never got going. The Minutemen finished the contest 19-of-49 (38.8 percent) from the field and 5-of-20 (25 percent) from three.

“(The Bonnies) stressed our defense and our inability to guard them impacted our discipline on offense,” Martin said. “And we just broke off. We never executed anything that we were trying to call from the bench. We gave in to the emotion of the moment, and you can’t do that and be any good.”

Daryl Banks and Yann Farell scored a combined 53 points for the Bonnies, 30 of those points coming off 3-pointers that UMass had no answer for.

“St. Bonaventure just executing and coming after us and making shots broke the spirit that we got to have to play well on offense,” Martin said. “You don’t play well when you play individual basketball, offense or defense. And that’s what we did today.”

Along with the foul trouble was Fernandes’ ankle, which he and Martin both said weren’t 100 percent. Fernandes initially injured it against Harvard, where he made two free throws in obvious pain before getting subbed out immediately and helped to the bench. The senior landed awkwardly after getting fouled Saturday and winced in pain, but didn’t get subbed out and finished the game.

“It definitely hurts,” Fernandes said. “It’s really just a tolerance thing, how much do I want to be out there and how much do I want to win. If you ask me those questions it’s going to be a lot. I want to be out there and help the guys. I’m just trying not to think about it and trying to be myself out there.”

The Minutemen were down 22-14 when Fernandes subbed in with 10:09 left in the first half. The Bonnies bench chirped Fernandes, and after hitting a 2-pointer that took a few bounces before falling, he fired back, not even remembering what he said. After hitting a 3-pointer on the following possession, Fernandes yelled at Bonnies freshman Barry Evans, who wore the number zero. Fernandes told media he said “Hey zero,” and was given the technical foul after that.

“I’m not really a big curser, swearer at people and stuff like that, I don’t try to degrade nobody,” Fernandes said. “To me it’s just being competitive and that’s what basketball has been my whole life. It’s fun getting into those talking-chirping battles and you got to back it up with your game. I guess they’re trying to get that out of the game or something. I guess I got to adjust to the new rules.”

Fernandes led UMass in scoring with 13 points, followed by Isaac Kante and Brandon Martin each with 12.

Joey Aliberti can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JosephAliberti1.