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’ offense falters in 62-44 loss to North Texas

Poor shooting and turnovers seal Minutemen’s fate
Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian (2022)

In a sloppy offensive showing, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team hampered itself with poor shooting and undisciplined defensive play, losing 62-44 to North Texas in Springfield on Saturday.

Physicality was abundant in UMass’ (8-3) loss to the Mean Green (9-2). Players battled for loose balls seemingly every possession with there being plenty of tie-ups, takeaways, and tumbles. The game’s fluidity took a hit with whistles breaking up inconsistent offensive play.

“Fouls are bad plays,” Minuteman coach Frank Martin said. “The only good foul is when you got a layup and I come across the lane and put you on your head. That’s the only good foul. Any other foul is a bad play. And we committed a lot of bad fouls… and when you make those, then you’re putting a team that’s struggling to score on the foul line. And credit [North Texas], they know how to play.”

With aggressive and careless play, referees were quick to blow their whistles; 49 fouls were called, an average of over one per minute. Of those, 28 came in the second half, with both teams getting in the bonus within the half’s first seven minutes.

As a result, over 3,400 fans in the MassMutual Center were treated to 61 free throws (34 from the Mean Green, 27 from the Minutemen). Coming into the matchup, UMass’ past five games had over 38 free throw attempts on average.

A stretch between the 8:20 and 3:31 marks in the first half described the game well, when both teams combined to go 1-of-11 from the floor with six turnovers and six fouls.

The game stayed close in the first 34 minutes, with the Minutemen maintaining a small lead for majority of the first half. With under four minutes to go and UMass down six, a Brandon Martin layup attempt was blocked and quickly turned into a Mean Green 3-pointer on the other end.

Then an offensive miscommunication led to a fastbreak layup for North Texas, bringing the lead up to 11. That sequence began a 12-0 Mean Green run to end the game, with the Minutemen failing to make a field goal over the final 4:23 of play.

North Texas arrived in Springfield with the slowest offense in the country, and while this game was its fastest of the season in terms of possessions, it still had a below-average pace. The Mean Green frequently used up a majority, if not all, of the shot clock to run their offense.

When UMass was able to gain control of the ball, it wasn’t pretty. The Minutemen shot just 24 percent from the floor, including 5-of-26 in the second half. For the first time this season, the team failed to hit a 3-pointer. UMass also finished with 19 turnovers, equivalent to almost one every three possessions.

In a game where it can be tough to find a bright spot, a UMass player who made a noticeable impact on offense was Matt Cross. The Louisville transfer led with 19 points and 13 rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting, showing good offensive awareness and shot-creation on a night where those skills were seldomly seen. Apart from Cross’ performance, the only other Minuteman with above five points was Dyondre Dominguez, who had 12 points and nine boards while going 8-for-9 from the line.

“Nobody on our team converts a play inside if it’s not Matt Cross,” Martin said. “So we got to get contributions in these kind of games from somebody other than Matt Cross inside of 20 feet and we’re not getting that right now. I think we got outscored 37-0 from the [point] guard spot today- you’re not going to beat a team like North Texas when you get thoroughly outplayed at the guard spot like that.”

North Texas’ offense was far from perfect, shooting 31 percent, but it was enough. Senior guard Tylor Perry led all scorers with 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including a deadly step-back jumper over Cross with 2:25 remaining to seal the game for the Mean Green. Kai Huntsberry also chipped in 14.

The Minutemen head back to Mullins Center on Tuesday to take on Dartmouth (4-9) at 7:00 ET.

Dean Wendel can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @DeanWende1.

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