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 men’s basketball defense falters in its 93-78 loss to Davidson

Wildcats shoot 54 percent from deep
Dylan Nguyễn/ Daily Collegian

With the Massachusetts men’s basketball team having its top three scorers either out or playing not 100 percent, how efficient could the Minutemen offense really be?

UMass (13-10, 4-7 A-10) players answered that question and more. The team scored 43 second-half points, averaged 1.2 points per possession, and had a 55.9 effective field goal percentage, over nine percentage points higher than their average coming in.

And yet it wasn’t nearly enough.

Davidson (11-12, 4-7 Atlantic 10) rode hot shooting from seemingly its entire roster all Saturday afternoon, coasting past the Minutemen 93-78, moving both teams to the same 4-7 record in conference play.

Coming into Saturday’s contest, the Wildcats ranked 318th in the nation in three-point percentage, shooting 30.7 percent from deep. That number wasn’t only a bottom-50 mark in the country, but it was also second worst in the A-10.

Against UMass, those shooting woes disappeared. Davidson started the game strong, making six of its first eight attempts, and stayed strong, countering every scoring punch its opponents had. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Wildcats shot over 50 percent at all three scoring levels (57.6 percent on 2s, 53.8 percent on 3s, and 86.7 percent on free throws). It was the first time all season the Minutemen allowed over 90 points in a game.

“We got to guard the basketball man,” UMass coach Frank Martin said after the game. “It’s plain and simple. We have rules on what we do defensively, and we were bad today. We didn’t defend today. We can sit around and say ‘Well, we didn’t have this guy and didn’t have that guy and that guy here.’ All that’s irrelevant.”

“You still have to play with a competitive edge to give yourself a chance to win and we didn’t do that today … We got out of the way today. And that hurts my soul.”

While a shooting performance like Davidson’s is impressive no matter what, the Minutemen defense gave the Wildcats plenty of open looks. Those open looks led junior Connor Kochera to score a season-high 29 points, going 7-of-9 from three. Center David Skogman shot 4-of-5 from deep as well, creating plenty of space between himself and Minutemen bigs.

On the other side of the ball, UMass’ offense revolved around Matt Cross. Despite being sent to the hospital less than a week prior with a stomach illness, Cross delivered his own “flu game” Saturday afternoon, scoring a career-high 28 points from all around the court.

Past Cross, Keon Thompson delivered a quality performance as well. With the Minutemen losing both Noah Fernandes and Rahsool Diggins to injuries, the freshman helped fill both players’ shoes in facilitating the offense. Despite shooting struggles, Thompson looked extremely comfortable assuming that role, finishing the game with 12 assists and two turnovers in 32 minutes. Dyondre Dominguez and T.J. Weeks added 12 and 10 points, with Weeks also playing the backup point guard role.

Martin highlighted postgame his team’s need to increase their effort and accountability, even offering up a story from his youth that helped him improve those traits:

“10th grade, I show up at high school. The old man that was a coach there before my coach, he’d sit at the half-court line on the asphalt courts…he’s the winningest coach in the history of the state of Florida, Vince Schaefer. Was at the school for 39 years. And he’d say we’re doing left-handed layups today. And you’d stand and shoot left-handed layups for 20 minutes…if you did anything like that wrong or you missed, instead of going to the back of the line, you came and bent over right in front of him, he sat there with his wooden paddle with the holes in it, and you got whacked. That’s how things were done back then.”

“I’m not saying that’s the way to go. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not for that…But accountability, how you hold people accountable, because if you don’t hold people accountable, it’s hard to make them better.”

“That’s the challenge. We’ll get there. We’ll figure it out.”

The Minutemen’s next game is Wednesday night, as they travel to the Bronx to take on Fordham. Tipoff is 7 p.m. ET.

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *