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

Dominant offense gives UMass men’s basketball 102-81 win over Quinnipiac

Minutemen shoot 55 percent from the floor in resounding 21-point victory
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team defeated Quinnipiac 102-81 Monday night for its first 2-0 start in four years.

With the Bobcats (2-1) entering the contest as a stronger opponent than Albany, the Minutemen’s first of the season, head coach Frank Martin’s squad had to continue its strong offensive play to obtain its second win of the season. UMass (2-0) did that and more, scoring 100 points in a game for the first time in two and a half years.

“When you play well offensively, it lets your defense set,” Martin said. “We’ve played enough games to know this: those kids really care; they’re going to play really hard. They like playing with each other and offensively, we got a chance to be pretty good.”

Both teams opened the contest with hot shooting, combining to make nine of the game’s first 13 field goal attempts. After that initial scoring outburst, offenses cooled off slightly, but points still came in bunches. The Minutemen averaged almost 1.4 points per possession in the game, a number rare to come by.

The UMass offense continued to click in the second half, and after Quinnipiac mostly kept pace early, a hot stretch coming out of halftime put the Bobcats away for good. After a Paul Otieno jumper cut their lead down to nine, the Minutemen proceeded to score 13 points in under three minutes, creating an 18-point deficit that Quinnipiac never recovered from.

Much of UMass’ scoring came from deep. The team continued its scorching start from beyond the arc, with 40 percent of the Minutemen’s shots coming from three, and 11 of the team’s 28 attempts found the net (39.3 percent). The leader from three on the night was junior guard Rahsool Diggins, who put in four threes as part of his game-leading 22-point performance.

“[UMass] shot the ball much better than we had anticipated,” Bobcats head coach Tom Pecora said. “They ended up making 11, but they were very timely when they needed them late in the clock.”

UMass didn’t benefit only from the deep ball. The team’s interior scoring was excellent as well Monday, marking a stark change from last year’s squad. In 2022-23, the Minutemen ranked 319th in the nation in close two percentage, making just 54 percent of their shots at the rim. Against Quinnipiac, they shot 20-of-27 (74 percent) from that range, both getting and converting opportunities down low. UMass scored 48 points in the paint, helping collapse the defense for open threes.

The turnover battle was also won by UMass, a department that the team has excelled with so far in the young stages of the season. After two early cough ups by Keon Thompson and Josh Cohen, it took over 21 minutes of play before the Minutemen committed their third turnover. UMass finished with seven turnovers on the night while Quinnipiac finished with 15. As of writing, the Minutemen’s turnover percentage of 7.8 ranks third in the country, behind just Kentucky and McNeese State. They have 43 assists to 12 turnovers in two games.

For UMass, past Diggins’ career-high 22 points, scoring was spread out around the roster. Six players scored in double digits, including returnees, transfers and freshmen alike. Senior Matt Cross was second in scoring with 19 points despite playing just four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.

Transfers Daniel Hankins-Sanford and Josh Cohen scored 13 and 11, respectively, while the freshman duo of Marqui Worthy and Jayden Ndjigue contributed 11 and 10 points each for the Minutemen. Worthy did the bulk of his work Monday through driving to the rim, providing a first half scoring punch for UMass when the team was stagnating against the Bobcats’ zone defense.

For Quinnipiac, Amarri Tice and Matt Balanc co-led the team in scoring with 13 points apiece. Past them, UConn transfer Richie Springs had an efficient 12-point, six-rebound night on 5-of-5 shooting.

Next up for the Minutemen: a home tilt against Harvard. The game tips off Friday at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN+.

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

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