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 fails to come back at George Washington Saturday

Colonials outshoot the Minutemen 20-6 at the free throw line
Dylan Nguyễn/Daily Collegian

With another slow start on the ropes, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team fell into a hole it couldn’t climb out of, losing 81-73 to George Washington on the road Saturday.

The hosts controlled the game just about all the way through. The Minutemen’s (10-5, 1-2 Atlantic 10) last lead came at the 11:52 mark in the first half, when it was 14-13, before the Colonials (8-8, 2-1 A-10) went on a 24-5 run. Frank Martin’s group fell down by as much as 19 but kept the game in striking distance during the second half.

“Really disappointed in our first half and just a lack of enthusiasm for doing things the right way from the jump ball,” Martin said. “Really, really disappointed. It’s conference play, we’re still trying to figure our team out, I’m sure Chris [Caputo] is in the same boat with GW. Unfortunately, as we go through the rigors of the season I learn as much as every player. We’re right in the middle of that whole process.

“We defended slightly better [in the second half], which got us some open court opportunities. Going into the game, the thought process on offense was we’re supposed to run some stuff and get the ball inside … I thought we did that better in the second half. In the first half all we did, we were just lethargic. From the jump ball. It was bad defensively, bad offensively … we had no purpose to how we were playing.”

The Minutemen’s offense was unproductive in the first half due to a turnover problem, missed shots and a large disparity at the foul line. All of those areas improved drastically in the second half but not enough to ever make it a one-possession game. Seemingly every time UMass went on a scoring run, GW stopped the bleeding. In large part thanks to the guard duo of James Bishop IV and Brendan Adams, along with forward Ricky Lindo Jr.

Bishop came into the game ranking fifth in the nation in scoring with 22.1 points per game, raising that average with 26 against the Minutemen. Adams scored 15, and the two guards combined for 10 assists and one turnover. Lindo had a solid performance in the post with a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double along with three steals.

After an encouraging win over Saint Louis, a bad first half sank UMass in this game. It’s the eighth game in a row the Minutemen can’t string two wins together, and Martin is still in search for that regularity.

“Finding consistency and gelling and learning how to play with a purpose, over and over again, is the journey of building a program, not coaching a game. And we’re not there,” he said.

One of the keys for UMass in going from 26 points in the first half to 47 in the second was shooting efficiency. The Minutemen improved from 32.4 to 56.3 percent from the field, 30.8 to 55.6 from three and from 0-for-1 at the line to 6-for-8. Still, GW’s 20-for-25 at the stripe was too tough to overcome.

“We were getting stops but we weren’t really getting every stop that we needed,” Noah Fernandes said. “I think we got stops to cut the lead to eight, to seven, but when you get into seven and eight, you got to get those one or two stops to really put them on their heels.”

A bright spot on Saturday was freshman RJ Luis’ performance. He stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals while putting on a strong defensive job in the process.

TJ Weeks and Fernandes tied him for the team lead in scoring with 13 points, and Isaac Kante had 12 points and seven rebounds on the day. Matt Cross, one of the team’s main players, was on the court for a season-low 13 minutes in which he had four turnovers.

UMass will face La Salle on Jan. 11th at the Mullins Center. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

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